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Monday Meeting: Snacks as Meals

Source: NPD Group "Snacking in America 2012"

Taco Bell calls its late-night snack menu “Fourthmeal,” but “fifth meal” might be more accurate: A new study from The NPD Group concludes that one of every five eating occasions in the U.S. is snack occasion.

Further, while evening snacks are the most common, it’s morning snacking that is on the rise, now exceeding the number of afternoon snacks per capita, according to the “Snacking in America 2012” report. More than half (53%) of all Americans have two or more snack occasions in their day.

As snacks increase in number, formal meals are becoming smaller and more snack-like, NPD finds. The average American dinner now has 4.1 food or beverage items, compared with 5.3 items in 1985. And dinner is the only meal in which a majority of the meal occasions are considered to be a full or complete meal by consumers.

◙ What’s next for Burger King’s menu, with the barbecue sandwiches due to cycle off soon? Perhaps it will do as it has done in Mexico, where the chain is offering a three-item line of hot dogs branded as King Dogs.

The 21-centimeter (8¼ inch) dogs are offered as Cheddar (with cheese and crispy onions), the Furioso (with spicy Angry sauce, jalapeňos, crispy onions and sautéed onions) and Salteado (A.1. sauce and sautéed onions).

◙ During McDonald’s Q2 earnings call on July 23, CEO Don Thompson singled out the UK as a bright spot in global sales, saying the chain has increased its market share there despite an overall slowdown across Europe. The success of new premium products has helped the chain there, and it is trying to keep that momentum going by bringing back its most upscale sandwich, the M burger (below).

With beef, thick Swiss cheese, tomato slice and lettuce, the M’s cache is all about presentation, helped by its distinctive oblong “stone-baked roll.” As the supporting TV spot explains, “We do know how to make a brilliant burger.”

In the U.S., where McDonald’s reported negative (-0.1%) sales for July, the focus is on value-priced items. A $1.99 Bacon McDouble burger has surfaced in several markets as a new star for the Extra Value Meal menu.

The early word from Australia and New Zealand is that initial response to McDonald’s new Serious Lamb Burger there has been positive and strong even with its relatively high price (AUS$7.95 or US$8.30; a small combo is AUS$9.95 or US$10.38).

McDonald’s is offering the companion Serious Lamb Taster snack wrap for AUS$3.00 (US$3.13).

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