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If you go to the Nielsen company’s website, you will see that their passion is knowing what consumers watch and buy. For instance, 80% of people surveyed by Nielsen said they plan to buy presents for their immediate family this holiday season. Almost as many (24%) will shop for their pets as they do for their extended family (25%).

But this isn’t about presents. It’s about what people eat. Or, more specifically, what they snack on.

In September, Nielsen published the Global Survey of Snacking, polling more than 30,000 consumers in 60 countries earlier this year. According to the survey, snacking is now a $374 billion industry worldwide. And, before you go all Frito-obesity-nacho-Oreo-sugar-Funions-epidemic on me, you should know that the #1 “snack” across the globe is fruit.

Hmm. I read the twenty-one page Nielsen report on snacking and didn’t clamor for an orange or peach even once. But, in my pre-veganish days I was known for the Milky Way lunch and the chocolate chip muffin breakfast, so maybe I’m not the ideal test case.

If we look at total retail snack sales, it doesn’t appear to be the strawberry grower who’s laughing all the way to the bank. Latin Americans are spending $9 billion annually on cookies and cakes. North America is spending $23 billion on salty snacks. Europeans are plunking down $47 billion on confections. That’s a lot of bon bons.

But you know how statistics are. You can make them say anything you want. The report indicates that women snack more than men. Over 90% of those surveyed had at least one snack a day. And almost half of those polled said they have a snack as a meal replacement. Maybe that guy having a candy bar for lunch is in the mainstream after all.

You may be wondering if the American snacker is reaching for fruit along with his global brothers and sisters. Well, we are. Right after chips (63%), chocolate (59%), cheese (58%), and cookies (56%). I’m feeling more normal by the minute!
To download and digest the Global Survey of Snacking in its entirety, go to nielsen.

What is your favorite snack?   Please leave a comment…