USA—US retail data science, insights and media company 84.510 polled shoppers about their buying intentions in late May in the wake of inflation and 45% of the survey respondents said they have been forced to cut costs to get by.

Bakery and snacks report that typically, the first items to be passed over in times like these are those perceived as unessential, with sweets, snacks and indulgent baked goods falling into that category.

However, it is a fact that during stressful times, people crave comfort and small bursts of pleasure. The magic trio falls into the group of foods that stimulate the limbic reward system in the brain.

This chemically triggers strong cravings for comfort foods and snacks. Simply put, emotional stress causes brain chemical and hormonal changes that decrease feelings of satiety and reward the compulsion to snack.

Research has found that comfort snacking varies from person to person. We form unconscious, sensory relationships with food — possibly even in vitro.

Rachel Goldman, PhD, FTOS, a clinical psychologist, speaker, and consultant based in New York City said, “There is a strong emotional and social connection to food. Food is linked to emotions, memories, feelings, and more.” It is for this reason that tastes vary.

Illustrating this, men and women in general are noted to crave different foods: while women lean towards the sweet, soft and indulgent, men are more inclined towards the hot, spicy and savory.

The foremost query the 84.510 insights team wanted to answer was, given the current economic woes, have shoppers sourced on snacks.

When asked how they’re coping with grocery store price increases, 52% of shoppers were being more careful with purchases in the dairy (82%), produce (78%) and deli/meat/fish (77%) categories. 64% did admit, though, that they’d cut back on snacks and candy if money was tight.

But sales numbers reveal a different story. According to 84.510, overall category sales of snacks have risen 9% YTD 2022. Rice cakes with a 29% YTD sales jump lead the snacking surge, followed by Multipack Snack (23%) and berries (18%).

The survey found the go-to snacks include fruit (70%) and potato chips (62%) with 59% of respondents veering to these selections to satisfy a craving. 74% claim that taste is king even more important than curbing their appetite (46%) or getting more protein (26%).

As inflation continues to ravage the global economy, Snacks appear to be relatively bolstered by humanities need for pleasure, a bare necessity even in these trying times.  

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