The changing face of New Zealand’s snacking habits

by | Mar 27, 2024 | News

The era of three meals a day for Kiwis may be nearing an end, according to new  research by Mondelēz International (custodian of popular brands such as Cadbury, Oreo, TNCC, Pascall’s, Philadelphia  and Ritz).

New Zealand was included in the global food manufacturer’s State of Snacking Report for the first time this year, with a  survey of consumers revealing younger generations increasingly favour snacking over traditional mealtimes. The data  also shows New Zealanders’ snack-buying habits haven’t changed despite the cost-of-living challenges, and it  challenges stereotypes around who eats the most chocolate.

“A key thing that stands out is while two-thirds of Kiwis say they’re more conscious of pricing, they’re buying their  favourite snacks as much as ever. When you look at how we’re choosing to eat these days, it’s clear why. Generation X  was unkindly called the slacker generation by their elders, but Gen Z might be called the snacker generation,” says  Bevan Adin, Managing Director of Mondelēz New Zealand.

More than a quarter of New Zealanders (27%) said they preferred to skip breakfast in favour of a snack, but that rose to  40% for those in Generation Z (adults aged 18-26). Almost half of this age group also preferred a late-night snack to a  meal at dinner, reflecting a growing global trend.

When asked to explain why they snack, 40% nominated comfort-seeking. However, they also prioritised snacking for  “social health”, considering snacking aligned better with their social activities than traditional mealtimes.

On the other hand, millennials (those aged 27-42) were by far the most likely to prioritise their physical health. Choosing  calorie-conscious, low-sugar snacks to meet nutritional needs or take care of their body was a key priority for around  half, compared with just 32% of Gen Z and far fewer from other generations. New Zealanders in general were also  conscious about the environment, with half looking out for snacks that used less plastic.

Overall, New Zealanders are huge chocolate fans. Asked to decide between giving up social media or chocolate for a  month, an impressively large 30% of young adults would rather give up social media. Almost a third (31%) of us eat a bar  of milk chocolate at least once a week on average.

Meanwhile, men are bigger chocolate fans than women. 37% of men eat chocolate at least weekly, against 31% of  women (although daily consumption is evenly split, at 8% and 7% respectively).

The State of Snacking Report sheds light on snacking as a growing behaviour worldwide, with more people moving away  from three main meals per day in favour of snacks. Today, nearly 9 in 10 global consumers report they snack daily (88%)  particularly Gen Z and Millennials, while six in 10 adults worldwide say they prefer to eat many small meals throughout  the day as opposed to a few larger ones.


Report Findings – Summary 

  1. New Zealanders are increasingly replacing meals with snacks 
  • Despite two-thirds of New Zealanders saying they’re more cost-conscious, our snack buying habits haven’t  changed.
  • More than a quarter of New Zealanders (27%) eat more snacks than meals.
  • Fewer than two-thirds of New Zealanders (61%) regularly eat breakfast, with many of us preferring a light snack  later in the morning.
  • 40% of Generation Z New Zealanders (26 and under) skip breakfast in favour of a snack, and 45% prefer a late night snack to an actual dinner.
  1. Millennial New Zealanders are more health-conscious than other generations 
  • 48% of millennials snack to meet nutritional needs or take care of their body – compared with just 32% of Gen Z  and far fewer from other generations.
  • 47% of millennials are also calorie conscious and watch their sugar intake, far ahead of the next most  conscious generation, Gen Z (33%).
  • Younger generations say they snack for “social health” rather than physical wellbeing.
  1. More than half of Kiwis agree they would rather give up social media for a month than chocolate (53%) • 30% of Gen Z would rather give up social media for a month than chocolate.
  • 37% of men eat chocolate on a weekly basis, vs 31% of women (although the sexes are evenly split on daily  consumption, at 8% and 7% respectively).
  • 31% of New Zealanders eat a milk chocolate bar at least once a week.
  1. New Zealanders want to make more sustainable snacking choices 
  • Half of New Zealanders prioritise snacks with less plastic.
  • 46% are looking for snacks that work to minimise their environmental impact.
  1. Younger New Zealanders are passionate about trying new snacks 
  • 88% of Gen Z and 83% of Millennials would make a point of buying a new flavour as soon as it comes out. That  drops to just 55% of Gen X Kiwis.
  • 92% of Gen Z New Zealanders do their homework about a new product online before buying. However, two thirds of Kiwis (including more than half of Gen Z) still prefer to discover new snacks instore rather than online.
  • More than 2/3 (67%) of Gen Z would queue for a limited edition of their favourite product.

Photo by Nico Smit on Unsplash

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