CHICAGO: The vast majority of Americans (94%) snack at least once a day, some several times a day, according to a recent report which also noted a marked increase in consumer demand for healthier snacking options.

Mintel, the market intelligence agency, surveyed 2,000 US adults for its Snacking Motivations and Attitudes US 2015 report and found a third (33%) claim to be snacking on healthier food this year compared to 2014.

Not only are consumers eating healthier snacks, but nearly one-third (30%) of parents, particularly millennials, are serving healthier snacks to their children.

About another third of consumers (34%) say they limit their intake of cookies and other sweet treats while a full 60% want healthier snack options to be made more widely available.

A growing number of parents (42%) also want brands to repackage snacks, so that more of them come in resealable packaging or as individual portions.

Millennials are also more likely than older generations to prefer snacks with added nutrition and bold flavours, the report found.

But while these findings may please nutritionists and public health officials, the research confirmed that US consumers still highly value taste and flavour.

Three-quarters (74%) say flavour is more important than a particular brand, almost two-thirds (63%) value the taste of salty snacks more than their nutritional value, while half (51%) agree that taste is more important to them than health.

Overall, 62% of US consumers say they snack mainly to satisfy a craving while other motivations include snacking to overcome boredom (25%) and stress (16%).

Commenting on the trend for US consumers to increasingly turn to healthier snacks, Mintel food analyst Amanda Topper advised brands to reconsider their packaging and to strike a balance between convenience and affordability.

"With a third of consumers saying they are snacking on healthier options more often this year compared to last year, there will be an increasing need for better-for-you snacks, in smaller portions and convenient formats. This addresses consumers' desire to balance both health and indulgence," she said.

"This highlights a need for balance between convenience and affordability, knowing the importance many consumers, especially younger consumers, place on affordable snacks," she added.

Data sourced from Mintel; additional content by Warc staff