According to research, one-third of Americans say they do not have time to eat as well as they would like to. Further, only two-thirds of the US population regularly eats three meals daily, and more than one third regularly skip meals and instead eat convenience foods or snacks.
This relatively unhealthy consumer behaviour runs parallel with a contrary consumer interest in healthier eating, as more and more Americans see the effects of poor nutrition and rampant obesity.
These two trends together represent major opportunities for cookie marketers who consider broadening the scope of what a cookie can offer, such as high protein, high fibre, natural/organic, fortified, lower-fat, lower-sugar, and lower-salt.
During the past five years, foods with high sugar content were increasingly linked to diabetes and other preventable diseases in the media, making consumers more aware of the negative health effects that can occur from eating too many cookies.
Producers quickly adapted to changing consumer tastes by offering more healthy options, such as reduced calorie snack packs for cookies. Companies successfully charged a premium for these products because consumers perceived them to be of higher quality than generic brand products.
Though the total cookie market has been in decline, there are some sweet spots, particularly in premium, upscale, and gourmet cookie products. Marketers of so-called premium adult cookies have seen modest growth.
As more and more consumers look to add natural and organic foods as key parts of their diet, organic food producers and marketers and retailers will seek to capitalise on a growing segment. Though overall sales of organic cookies were not available, the "health" of this product market is apparent by the sales growth of individual marketers.
To find new sources of growth and fight declining sales in flagship brands, many marketers play it safe by turning to line extensions to prop up sales. In the last few years, Nabisco has introduced numerous, successful iterations of its popular cookie, the Oreo, while Pepperidge Farm has been very successful extending its Milano line into various forms and flavours.
Forecast increases in household disposable income will drive demand for cookies through to 2018. Additionally, as the number of health-conscious consumers continues to grow, producers will introduce a greater variety of healthier product options for cookies, which will increase demand for industry products.
For more information on the US cookie market, see the latest research: US Cookie Market
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