CHICAGO – While American consumers have always turned to snack foods for comfort and enjoyment during challenging times, this behavior has been heightened during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, according to the NPD Group.

Indulgent snacking is playing an increasing role during the past few months. Snack food consumption has increased by over 8% during the pandemic as consumers seek comfort through savory and sweet snacks, according to NPD’s Snack Food Behaviors in Challenging Times study.

“We’ve seen consumers turn to indulgent snack foods in other challenging times, and although history isn’t repeating itself during COVID, it is rhyming,” said Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst. “Although we can’t predict what’s going to happen in the future, I think it’s safe to say snack food manufacturers and retailers can expect elevated snack food usage while COVID-19 restricts our restaurant usage and overall movement, in particular school closings and work from home orders.”

During the height of the shelter-at-home orders in April, 37% of consumers told the NPD Group they wanted to make sure they had sufficient snack foods on hand. Salty snacks and frozen sweets were well-stocked during these times and continue to this day.

Snack food consumption grew 8% in April as consumers sought comfort from sweet and salty snacks. 4% more snack occasions occurred, driven by a combination of increased snacking rates and foodservice snacks shifting to the home.