Packaged-food companies are hoping the U.S. comes down with a serious case of the munchies. At least, we can assume that's the idea given the amount of growth packaged-food companies hope to see from their snacks businesses.

MarketWatch reports packaged-food companies plan to "capitalize on American consumers who continue to snack more throughout the day." They also expect to see growth from developing markets, which have more women entering the workforce -- target munchers.

Gary Stibel, chief executive of the New England Consulting Group tells MarketWatch people are busier than they used to be, and the trend is growing. As a result, "you and I will continue to snack more and sit down to a meal less."

So how much growth are we talking about? The roughly $560 billion snack market hopes to see higher demand, increase prices, and toll out with new snack products. Possibilities seem limitless.

"There's plenty of room" for growth for all the smaller and larger players in the field. "The global market's very fragmented," said Lee Linthicum, Euromonitor's head of global food research.

Business section: Investing ideas
Will our fast-paced lifestyle give rise to higher snack-food demand?

If so, here are some key players that may benefit from the trend: (Click here to access free, interactive tools to analyze these ideas.)

1. ConAgra Foods: Operates as a food company primarily in North America.

2. General Mills: Manufactures and markets branded consumer foods worldwide.

3. Pepsico (NYS: PEP) : Engages in the manufacture, marketing, and sale of foods, snacks, and carbonated and non-carbonated beverages worldwide.

4. Kraft Foods (NYS: KFT) : Together with its subsidiaries, manufactures and markets packaged food products worldwide.

5. Kellogg (NYS: K) : And its subsidiaries manufacture and market ready-to-eat cereal and convenience food products primarily in North America, Europe, Latin America, and the Asia Pacific.

6. Hershey: Engages in manufacturing, marketing, selling, and distributing various chocolate and confectionery products, pantry items, and gum and mint refreshment products worldwide.

7. Dole Food (NAS: DOLE) : Engages in sourcing, growing, processing, marketing, and distributing fresh fruits and vegetables, and food products to wholesale, retail, and institutional customers worldwide.

8. Chiquita Brands: Engages in the distribution and marketing of bananas and fresh produce under the Chiquita and other brand names worldwide.

9. Diamond Foods (NAS: DMND) : Engages in processing, marketing, and distributing snack products, as well as culinary, in-shell, and ingredient nuts.

10. J&J Snack Foods: Together with its subsidiaries, manufactures nutritional snack foods, as well as distributes frozen beverages to the food service and retail supermarket industries in the United States, Mexico, and Canada.

11. Snyder's-Lance: Engages in the manufacture, marketing, and distribution of various snack food products.

12. Ralcorp Holdings: Provides various food products and ready-to-eat cereal products.

13. The J. M. Smucker Company: Engages in the manufacture and marketing of branded food products in the United States and internationally.

Interactive Chart: Press Play to compare changes in analyst ratings over the last two years for the stocks mentioned above. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research.


Kapitall's Rebecca Lipman does not own any of the shares mentioned above.

At the time this article was published The Motley Fool owns shares of PepsiCo. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of PepsiCo. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a diagonal call position in PepsiCo. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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