Workers Gain Recession Pounds, Snacks Gain Clout

class="mceTemp">Our troubling economy may be contributing to the expanding waistlines of U.S. workers, suggests a new CareerBuilder study.  Results indicate that 43 percent have gained weight in their current jobs, with a quarter of employees reporting that they’ve gained more than 10 pounds; 12 percent say they’ve gained more than 20 pounds. 
Among the survey respondents, women are more likely (48 percent) than men (39 percent) to say they’ve gained weight at their current jobs.  Part of the problem appears to be snacking — one in 10 report increased snacking during the day due to concerns over the current economic situation.
It does appear than snacks have taken center stage in American eating.  NPD Group refers to snacks as the fourth meal of the day.  Why not, 21% of all meals are now snacks. 
According to Snack Foods Culinary Trend Mapping Report  from Packaged Facts, today’s time- crunched Americans are snacking more than ever — turning to snacks as meal stand-ins and eating more often to fuel on-the-go lifestyles and avoid energy crashes.  As snacks grow in importance and become not simply a  hunger-soothing bridge between formal meals, consumers are demanding more from their snacks.
The new report says emerging snacks are combining health and indulgence, with a new focus on quality ingredients, vivid flavor  and pumped-up nutrition.  Here are a few examples from the trend mapping report of the new snacking dynamics :
porkrindsSwanky Pork Rinds:  Goodbye down-home, hello upscale.  High-quality pork rinds illustrate the “real meat” trend and are showing up at  high-end bars and restaurants.
Gastro Popcorn:  No longer simply a Cineplex stand-by.  Gastro Popcorn has transformed this movie favorite into a gourmet snack with grown-up flavor profiles, such as curry and black truffle.   
Seaweed Snacks:  Inspiration from the sea.  Seawood Snacks offer a globally inspired duo of taste and health.
Alternative Chips:  A colorful palette of crunch.  New veggie chips that go beyond the pale potato are gaining in popularity thanks to their “minimally processed/maximum nutrition” persona, along with offering crunch and salty, spicy flavors.
Nuts Gone Global:  Lavished with exotic flavors from around the world.  Upscale nuts transform the familiar via striking new personalities. 
Whole Nutrition Sweets:  Promises of nutrition and indulgence.  Innovative treats are being created with such nutrient-packed ingredients as brown rice and soybeans.
The restaurant industry has also jumped on the snack bandwagon — with the growth of small plates and mini meals.  In the QSR arena, new products focus on smaller, snack-like portions — which is really just to entice you to come in more often.

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