In a rush-rush, overscheduled society, sitting down to three square meals a day seems almost quaint. Eating on the run has become the norm for millions. We fuel up with a quick bite on the way to work, grab lunch when and where we can and socialize over nibbles at the end of the day. Snacks are taking the place of an increasing number of traditional meals.

Research confirms the trend: a full 20 percent of all meal occasions are now snacks, and 85 percent of Americans snack throughout the day.1 Another study found that more than 50 percent of consumers snack three or more times per day.2

In addition to providing an energy boost and a platform for social interaction, snacking can be good for you. Including a healthy snack or two in your daily diet may help keep you from overeating at your next meal and provide you with valuable nutrients, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.3 A variety of proteins, vegetables and fruits make tasty and good-for-you snacks, such as peanut butter and celery, for example.

No wonder quick-service restaurant operators have tapped the snacking trend to build business in off-peak dayparts. For example, McDonald’s snack lineup includes everything from apple slices to Mighty Wings to seven varieties of Snack Wraps. KFC touts its new Go Cups—a line of snack items such as chicken wings, nuggets and fries in cups that fit car cup holders—for the many consumers who snack in their cars.

Also sporting snacks as alternatives to time-consuming standard meals are full-service restaurants. For example, Empire State South in Atlanta leads off its dinner menu with “snackies for the table” in jars, such as deviled ham, trout mousse and pickles. At the NoMad Hotel in New York City, bar snacks include vegetable crudité with chive cream and butter-dipped radishes with sea salt. Marlowe in San Francisco offers crispy Brussels sprout chips with lemon and sea salt and fries with horseradish aioli.

Of course, there is also a huge market for simple, basic, traditional snacks that consumers can carry with them or pick up on impulse. A prime example is peanut butter, a food which nearly 80 percent of consumers use away from home.4

Tasty and nutritious, peanut butter appeals to kids and grownups alike. Its legion of fans enjoy it at any time of day, including breakfast, between meals and at night. One of the most convenient ways to enjoy peanut butter is in the form of Jif To Go® Cups, which feature Jif®, the number-one retail peanut butter brand in the U.S.5 They come in a perforated, display-ready case of 36 ready-to-eat, portion-controlled, 1.5-ounce cups. They are a turnkey solution for grab ‘n’ go business—just put them on display and watch your sales and profits grow.

Adding to their appeal is the fact that Jif To Go Cups are perfect for dipping with many other popular snack items that you probably already have in your operation. Research shows that the top snack foods consumed with peanut butter include crackers, fruit, veggies and chocolate.6 Also try merchandising Jif To Go cups with Smucker’s® Snack’n Waffles® to create a truly winning combo. Merchandising Jif To Go alongside other portable shack foods like those promotes the grab 'n’ go occasion in a new and exciting way.

For more information about Jif Peanut Butter, visit www.smuckerfoodservice.com.

1NPD Group, National Eating Trends®/Crest®, 2012
2SymphonyIRI Group, 2012
3 Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Healthy Snacking in a Nutshell Toolkit, Sep. 16, 2013

4JMS Custom Research, 2012
5 IRI MULO 52 Week Data ending 1/26/14
6 JMS Custom Research, 2012