Survey Reveals Increased Snacking Habits in the ‘New Normal’

As Americans across the country have been under shelter-in-place orders, many turned to snacking for comfort. A new survey, conducted in May in partnership with California Walnuts and Kelton Global, explores the snacking behaviors of Americans and how they’ve changed since shelter-in-place mandates were implemented. Previous research from California Walnuts has shown that people who eat walnuts love to eat them as a snack, but the new study reveals larger snacking trends and what might stay.

About one in two Americans (48 percent) confess they are snacking more than before the pandemic began and two in five (40 percent) of those expect to see this behavior continue after the shelter-in-place mandates are lifted. While Americans are mostly torn when it comes to the perfect flavor profile of their snacks, the preference for sweet snacks (57 percent) currently edges out salty (43 percent).

Comfort is the first priority, with 75 percent of respondents noting that they are not trying to eat healthier snacks than they normally do, and only 20 percent remarking that they wish there were more nutritious snacking options available. As a result, close to a third (31 percent) of American snackers acknowledge that their new snacking behaviors have led to weight gain during the pandemic. Researchshows that walnuts can be part of a healthy diet that doesn’t lead to unwanted weight gain, which means walnuts are an ideal snack that not only satisfies both sweet and savory cravings, but also delivers on nutrition.

The survey insights indicate that snackers will continue to indulge, suggesting the importance of adding nutrient-rich ingredients to indulgent snacks in order to help maintain a healthy diet. Consumers can easily boost the nutrition of their snacks – whether savory or sweet – by incorporating walnuts into their snacking routine, without feeling like they are missing out. Not only do they pair well with sweet or savory flavors to satisfy any craving, but they also provide nutrients needed to keep you full between meals: 4g protein, 2g fiber and good fats, including 2.5g of essential omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) per 1 oz. serving. Walnuts are the only nut that are an excellent source of ALA, which has been associated with benefits for heart health, brain health and inflammation.

Whether Americans are working an essential job, attending back-to-back virtual meetings, setting up online learning for their children or a combination of all, a handful of walnuts is a simple snack that can fuel any activity.

Additional survey results regarding snacking behavior changes include:

  • Americans are exploring new options: Two in five (40 percent) American snackers stock up on snacks so they don’t have shop as frequently and about a quarter (23 percent) report that they have tried some new snacks since sheltering in place.
  • Snacking is a source of comfort: 33 percent of snacking Americans state they’ve found comfort in their favorite snacks since sheltering in place.To learn more about how walnuts are great for any snacking style, visit the California Walnuts snacking page at www.walnuts.org/snacking.

    About the Survey: The study surveyed 1,004 nationally representative Americans age 18+ in the U.S., and was conducted online from May 4 through May 7, 2020.

    The study has a margin of error of+/- 3.1%. Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results.

    In this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 3.1 percent, from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all personas in the universe represented by the sample. The margin of error for any subgroups will be slightly higher.

    Kelton Global is a leading global insights firm serving as a partner to more than 100 of the Fortune 500 and thousands of smaller companies and organizations. For more information about Kelton Global please call 1.888.8.KELTON or visit www.keltonglobal.com.

    California Walnut Board 
    The California Walnut Board (CWB) was established in 1948 to represent the walnut growers and handlers of California.  The CWB is funded by mandatory assessments of the handlers. The CWB is governed by a Federal Walnut Marketing Order. The CWB promotes usage of walnuts in the United States through publicity and educational programs. The CWB also provides funding for walnut production, food safety and post-harvest research.

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