SNACKS TRENDING TOWARD HEALTH, PRODUCE

While NPD Group's 23rd Annual Report on Eating Patterns in America puts a tight focus on prepared food, it also contains good news for the fresh produce department. People are eating more good-for-you foods, particularly nonfat foods, in an effort to stay healthy rather than following formal diets, which appear to be a thing of the past, the research shows. Even the snacks people

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. — While NPD Group's 23rd Annual Report on Eating Patterns in America puts a tight focus on prepared food, it also contains good news for the fresh produce department.

People are eating more good-for-you foods, particularly nonfat foods, in an effort to stay healthy rather than following formal diets, which appear to be a thing of the past, the research shows. Even the snacks people are consuming are healthier. Consumers are more apt now than in the past to have a piece of fruit as a snack, NPD vice president Harry Balzer said.

The report also shows that snacks are being planned ahead, with 70% of them being purchased six hours earlier.

In addition, a major shift in the time of day people have a snack bodes well for fresh produce. “Increasingly, we [Americans] are snacking more on coffee and fruit, nuts and seeds, in the morning,” Balzer said.

The current NPD report shows, too, that more people are eating breakfast. Indeed, skipping breakfast is at one of the lowest levels ever — and fruit often accompanies breakfast.

And sandwiches, which regularly include lettuce and tomato, and sometimes other vegetables, have held their spot at the top of the list of items people most frequently consume. The NPD report shows 91% of respondents consume sandwiches in-home at least once per two weeks. Vegetables, not including potatoes, and not as an ingredient, but as an end product, have held on to second place in that list. In fact, 86% of respondents ate vegetables in-home at least once in two weeks, the report shows.