As part of its long-term marketing plan, the California Milk Advisory Board has designated “Healthy Snacking” as one of four key growth platforms. Snacking is a trendy all-day favorite for children and adults, challenging the notion of a formal day-part as consumers opt for five or six smaller meals, or snacks.
According to Technomic’s “2016 Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report,” the percentage of consumers snacking daily grew markedly from 76% in 2014 to 83% two years later. In addition, the report cites that for more than half of consumers, healthfulness and nutrition are important considerations in choosing a snack.
Snacking is considered convenient, providing flexibility for those eating solo, empty-nesters, two-career households and families overwhelmed with Little League, carpooling, dance class and the other extracurricular demands of active children.
The upswing in consumer snacking provides the California dairy industry with unique foodservice applications – especially in the cheese and yogurt categories which are ideal choices to fulfill the desire for healthy and high protein foods.
The appetite for cheese in the U.S. continues to reach for the stars as Americans now consume over 35 pounds per capita annually, twice the amount as compared to two decades ago. Mozzarella and Cheddar lead the way, but artisan cheeses have gained in popularity. They were named as one of the top 20 predicted food trends for 2017 by the National Restaurant Association. In fact, Technomic reported that the once-rare cheese plate is up 44% on menus since 2010.
Mike Gallagher, of the California Milk Advisory Board, noted the increased use of cheese as a portable, nutritious snack for any day-part. Cheese pairs well with fresh fruit, crunchy vegetables, hearty cracker or lean meat for a filling snack. Consumers recognize that cheese makes an excellent, smart choice for a healthy snack – an average serving of cheese contains 10 grams of protein and 20 percent of daily calcium needs.
A very popular item today is the Mozzarella stick wrapped in Salami or Prosciutto. These high protein snacks travel well and are perfect for mobile meals. Lunch snacks include pre-packaged cheese and fruit cubes as a side dish for the sandwich crowd. People love “go-withs” and healthy snacks beat chips any day.
An additional underserved day-part occurs between 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. when foodservice operators can offer cheese with a range of wines and beers for a Happy-Hour snack. Menus regularly feature up to eight specialty cheeses including Brie, Cheddar and Mozzarella, with frequent selection turns. Restaurateurs note that patrons are more knowledgeable about specialty cheeses, seeking less and less wait staff advice.
Single-serve yogurt and premade parfaits are perfect for the breakfast or mid-afternoon day-part. Promote these Take-Away items for morning patrons that drop in for coffee – an excellent way to raise the check average and fuel hungry customers. Make single-serve yogurts accessible where people order coffee or morning pastries. Have spoons and napkins ready to go. Hand-dipped parfaits with fruit, nut and granola toppings are perfect for on-the-go eating and offer restaurants a real chance at creativity. New packaging features small cups inserted above the yogurt and under the lid to keep dry ingredients fresh and crunchy.