Who Are The World’s Biggest Snack Food Addicts?

When I first arrived in the UK in 1991, one of the things I noticed (being obsessed with food an’ all) was the ubiquitous little bag of Walkers crisps. I wondered whether it was perhaps against the law to pack a lunch box without it… and if ever you – heaven forbid! – happened to forget to pop one in, every vending machine in the country sported at least six different flavours. People even stuffed them into their sandwiches (the crisps minus the bag), as if it were the most normal lunchtime activity in the world.

A bag of Walker's infamous salt and vinegar flavour. Warning for the uninitiated: The first acrid whiff from a freshly opened bag will knock you out

A bag of Walker’s infamous salt and vinegar flavour. Warning for the uninitiated: The first acrid whiff from a freshly opened bag will probably knock you off your socks

Sure, we had potato chips in Germany, but they were sold in much bigger bags, invariably dusted with paprika powder, and intended for parties. The 30g bag for non-caring-non-sharing individual consumption had not yet caught on.

The Potato Chip Is King Of Snacks
In 2012, a total of 12 billion tonnes of sweet and savoury packaged snacks were consumed globally. This includes chips/crisps (“chips” is the US term, “crisps” is used in the UK), extruded snacks, nuts, tortilla/corn chips, popcorn, fruit snacks, pretzels, etc.

Extruded snacks

Extruded snacks

Chips/crisps lead the global snacks table, with 2.7 billion tonnes noshed in 2012, followed by extruded snacks. Lay’s (owned by PepsiCo Inc, which also owns the British brand Walkers) is the world’s leading snack food brand. Next in line are Doritos, Cheetos and Pringles.

Which nation snacks the most?
You will probably have guessed the answer. Yes, it’s the US. 11kg per capita in 2012. The runners-up of snackster gluttons are Ireland, the UK, both with 9kg per head per annum, followed by Norway and Spain. Germans mustered a mere 3kg and Italians 2kg.

And who prefers what?
The Brits really do love their crisps – they account for 40% of all snacks sold (by volume) in the UK. Needless to say, Walkers leads. In the US, tortilla chips are more popular than potato chips, while in Canada, it’s the other way around.

Potato chips are Germany’s leading snack, too, pretzels come in second, which makes sense, seeing as this is where they come from in the first place . Turkey is clearly on a health drive, with fruit snacks and nuts in the lead.

A typical snack offering in Spain, served automatically whenever you order a cold drink in a bar, cafe or restaurant. Contains an assortment of salted peanuts, fried broad beans, maize kernels, chick peas (garbanzo beans), raisins, crackers, etc.

A typical snack offering in Spain, served automatically whenever you order a cold drink in a bar, cafe or restaurant. Contains an assortment of salted peanuts, fried broad beans, maize kernels, chick peas (garbanzo beans), raisins, crackers, etc.

If you’re partial to reading amusing snack food reviews, check out this guy’s blog. It helps if you’re into Star Wars… 😉

[Data Source]

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16 thoughts on “Who Are The World’s Biggest Snack Food Addicts?

      1. ladyofthecakes Post author

        I leave the ‘weird snacks’ topic to foodjunk guy (see link at the end of my post) – he does it rather well 😉
        But then again… maybe if I happen to stumble across something intriguing…you never know!
        If you do, I expect a full report. Assuming that you survive the experience.

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  1. pollyheath

    I’m not surprised by my fellow Americans’ love of snacking.

    On the topic of strange flavors, in Russia they’ve got sour cream and dill chips, as well as crab and caviar, which I find quite weird.

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  2. americantaitai

    Walker’s crisps… I miss those! 🙂 Back in the US, we make do w/Kettle Chips http://www.kettlebrand.com/ which are pretty good as well. But I have noticed that there is a marked difference between the Walker’s more delicate “crisp” vs. Kettle Chips’ more hearty “crunch”… Perhaps we should stick to the more healthy nuts and dried fruits!

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    1. ladyofthecakes Post author

      Aren’t little dried fish a very popular snack in China? Also very healthy… as long as they don’t contain shedloads of salt. Which they probably do…

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      1. americantaitai

        Yes, and don’t forget the dried cuttlefish! 🙂 And shrimp chips. All of which are available in any US Asian grocery store. MSG-and-salt-laden, of course.

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