Snacking has become an “all-day habit” in the U.S., according to a new study.

While 46% of consumers eat salty snacks between meals in the afternoon and 37% in the evening, more consumers are also replacing traditional meals with quicker bites, according to the study, by Innova Market Insights.

The numbers of consumers who are consuming salty snacks at lunchtime (23%), dinner (17%) and even breakfast (8%) are also on the increase.

“As competition for the US snacking dollar intensifies, pressure is mounting on the salty snacks category to adapt and diversify in order to maintain its relevance,” according to the report. “This substitution of meals has encouraged many consumers to choose snacks with enhanced nutritional value.”

The salty snacks industry is clearly working to meet this need, with launches of snack nuts and seeds growing at a CAGR of 11% between 2014 and 2018, according to Innova.

Snack mixes also appear to be benefiting from this trend, with introductions up at a 16% CAGR over the same period. Many mixes contain naturally nutritious fruits, nuts and seeds, but they can also include sweeter, more indulgent elements such as chocolate-coated ingredients.

“Enjoyment is still a very strong driver behind snacks purchase,” says Lu Ann Williams, head of innovation at Innova. “When asked why they buy salty snacks, 40% of Americans named taste and a further 22% said it was to treat or reward themselves, so innovators need to balance nutrition and taste to ensure that salty snacks remain competitive for all snacking occasions.”