A recent article in bakingbusiness.com took on the complicated nature of consumer eating, investigating the seeming contradiction between the rise in health-consciousness and growing spending on snack foods. Fully two-thirds of American adults report indulging in snacking, while nearly half replace meals with snack foods. At the same time, the types of snack foods Americans report eating are changing, with 45% of people citing nutritional value as a factor in their choices. Fueling the growing snack foods market are millennials, many of whom reach for a snack four times a day. While some indulge out of boredom, others want a burst of energy during busy days that don’t allow for sit-down meals. The need for healthy, convenient foods is driving the rise in consumer spending on snacks. When was the last time you analyzed the nutritional content of your products? Having an accurate picture of the nutritional content of your products and comparing it to consumer eating trends is crucial when catering to the changing tastes of this generation and the next. For all the lip service paid to healthy living, Americans still want to reward themselves. In fact, indulgence is a key element of the trend toward healthy eating. Most people share the impulse to reward a trip to the gym with a tasty treat afterwards. So what does this mean for producers? The key for manufacturers and retailers is to highlight the nutritional content of their snack foods. This helps consumers feel virtuous even as they indulge. Health-conscious millennials, especially, seek snack foods that are high in protein and fiber, and they will pass along these preferences to their children. Baby Boomers are also looking for ways to indulge: over half of adults ages 55 to 62 reach for a snack to quell their appetite. Knowing and communicating the nutritional benefits of your products makes it easier for consumers to satisfy their cravings. There will always be a need for an industry that caters to consumers’ tendency to reward themselves, and bakeries of all sizes are perfectly positioned to benefit. Despite their best intentions, Americans will always reach for the occasional donut with no illusions about its nutritional content. And the millennial generation shows no signs of slowing the ever-diversifying snacking trend. As for the rest of the day, when healthier snacks are desired, the baking industry has an opportunity to fill another growing need. — Learn more: What do millennials want to eat? Should you substitute ingredients to decrease caloric content? Analyzing the nutritional content of your products. How to take advantage of millennials’ growing purchasing power: learning to navigate apparent paradoxes. How to predict your customers’ orders. How the snacking habits of millennials are shaping the industry.