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Snack Food Trends in the U.S.: Sweet, Salty, Healthy and Kids Snacks


Attention: There is an updated edition available for this report.

Healthier fare is certainly not the only trend in packaged snack foods, but it is by far the most important and widespread one, driven in large part by a heavy national focus on children’s health. Although sales of packaged snack foods in the U.S. topped $61 billion in 2005, this is up only 6% over 2001 sales, since good returns from “healthy” categories like yogurt and fresh fruit have been mostly offset by losses in “less healthy” categories like candy and cookies. Whereas some marketers are well positioned to ride the health wave, others have been rushing to come up with nutritionally enhanced products, while also scrambling to show how even not-so-healthy snacks can still fit into a healthy diet. Health-related trends that continue to gain momentum include portion control, high fiber/whole grains, cutting unhealthy ingredients (trans fats, processed sugar, fat, etc.), and natural/organic, even as product portability and convenience remain a top priority across all categories as more Americans graze more frequently on-the-go. Because kids snack even more than adults do, it is critical that snack makers maintain a hold on this young demographic, and attracting consumers of all ages to healthier snacks without severely cannibalizing sales of more traditional, not-so-healthy ones will be the fine line that marketers will have to walk in the coming years.

Snack Food Trends in the U.S. examines the market for packaged snack foods from a trend perspective, detailing sales and consumer usage trends across six sweet snack categories (candy, cookies & bakery, yogurt, food bars, fruit, and gelatin/pudding cups) and five salted snack categories (salty snacks, crackers, nut snacks, popcorn and rice/popcorn cakes, and dried meat snacks). The discussion is organized into four focus chapters—Sweet Snacks, Salted Snacks, Trends in Healthy Snacking, and Trends in Kids and Teens Snacks—homing in on the market-altering forces in each area down to the brand level, identifying top dollar sales gainers and comparing winners and losers across dozens of market segments and hundreds of products. Key data sources are Information Resources, Inc. InfoScan sales tracking data and Simmons Market Research Bureau (New York, New York) consumer surveys for adults, kids, and teens.

Report Methodology
The information in Snack Food Trends in the U.S. is based on both primary and secondary research. Primary research involved on-site examination of the retail milieu, interviews with marketing, public relations and industry analysts within the food market and consultants to the industry. Market size data was derived from Information Resources, Inc. Secondary research entailed data-gathering from relevant trade, business, and government sources, including company literature. New product information is gathered via literature research, personal interviews and data compiled by ProductScan, a service of Datamonitor. Consumer behavior patterns and data were derived from Simmons Market Research Bureau’s National Consumer Survey for Fall 2005.

What You’ll Get in this Report Snack Food Trends in the U.S. makes important predictions and recommendations regarding the future of this market, and pinpoints ways current and prospective marketers can capitalize on current trends and spearhead new ones. No other market research report provides both the comprehensive analysis and extensive data that Snack Food Trends in the U.S. offers. The report addresses the following segments:

  • Sweet Snacks
  • Salted Snacks
  • Trends in Healthy Snacking
  • Trends in Kids and Teen Snacks

Plus, you’ll benefit from extensive data, presented in easy-to-read and practical charts, tables and graphs.

How You Will Benefit from this Report
If your company is already competing in the snack industry, or is considering making the leap, you will find this report invaluable, as it provides a comprehensive package of information and insight not offered in any other single source. You will gain a thorough understanding of the current snack market, and how demographic and lifestyle changes will affect the snack industry in the future. Contributing to that understanding will be a complete analysis of sales data, and a detailed discussion of the consumer based on Simmons data.

This report will help:

  • Marketing Managers identify market opportunities and develop targeted promotion plans for the snack industry.
  • Research and development professionals stay on top of competitor initiatives.
  • Advertising agencies working with clients in the snack food industry to develop messages and images that fit with the future of the industry.
  • Business development executives understand the dynamics of the market and identify possible partnerships.
  • Information and research center librarians provide market researchers, brand and product managers and other colleagues with the vital information they need to do their jobs more effectively.


  • Chapter Executive Overview - Highlights
  • Executive Overview
    • Scope and Methodology
      • Scope of Report
      • Eleven Product Categories
      • Two Classifications: Sweet and Salted
    • Introduction
      • Snacks and the American Diet
      • Snack Time in America
        • Table Snacking Patterns: Percentage Who "Agree a Lot" with Selected Statements (U.S. Adults, U.S. Adult Women, and U.S. Adult Men)
      • In a Hurry and on the Run
        • Table Food Preparation Patterns: Percentage Who "Agree a Lot" with Selected Statements (U.S. Adults, U.S. Adult Women, and U.S. Adult Men)
      • The Battle Over Better-for-You
        • Table Attitudes About Nutrition: Percentage Who "Agree a Lot" with Selected Statements (U.S. Adults, U.S. Adult Women, and U.S. Adult Men)
      • The Nutritional Culprits
      • The Glycemic Index
      • America on a Diet
        • Table Percentage Rates for Selected Diet-Related Activities and Attitudes: Overall and By Gender, 2003 (U.S. adults)
      • A National Weight Crisis
      • The Demographics of Obesity
      • The Economic Toll
      • The Food Industry at Fault?
      • The International Angle
      • McDonald's on the Defensive
      • The Role of Portion Control
      • The Government Reaction
      • The New Food Guide Pyramid
      • The Mainstreaming of Natural/Organic Foods
    • Market Overview
      • Total Snack Sales Top $61 Billion in 2005
      • Candy Category at 32% of Market Total
      • IRI-Tracked Snack Sales at $32.5 Billion
      • Salty Snacks Category at 22.5% of IRI-Tracked Sales
      • Yogurt and Food Bars Are Top Growth Categories
      • Share of IRI-Tracked Sales by Market Classification: Sweet vs. Salted
      • Sweet Snacks at 67% of Five-Year Growth
      • Sweet Snacks Lead in New Product Introductions
      • Snack Bar SKUs Experience Exceptional Growth
      • Top Package Tags Highlight Top Trends
        • Table U.S. Retail Sales of Snack Foods, 2001-2005 (in millions of dollars)
        • Table U.S. Retail Sales of Snack Foods: By Product Category, 2005 (in millions of dollars)
        • Table IRI-Tracked Sales of Snack Foods, 2001-2005 (in millions of dollars)
        • Table Share of IRI-Tracked Sales of Snack Foods by Product Category, 2001 vs. 2005 (percent)
        • Table Dollar Growth of IRI-Tracked Sales of Snack Foods by Product Category, 2001-2005 (in millions of dollars)
        • Table Compound Annual Growth Rate of IRI-Tracked Sales of Snack Foods by Product Category, 2001-2005 (percent)
        • Table Total Growth in IRI-Tracked Sales of Snack Foods by Classification: Sweet and Salted, 2001-2005 (in millions of dollars)
        • Table Number of New Snack Product Reports by Category, 2001-2005
        • Table Number of New Snack Product SKUs by Category, 2001-2005
        • Table Number of New Snack Products by Package Tag, 2001-2005
    • Sweet Snacks
      • IRI-Tracked Sales of Sweet Snacks at $18.2 Billion
      • Snack Candy at $6.4 Billion and 35% of Sweet Snacks
      • Consumer Usage Reflects Similar Ranking by Product Type
      • Yogurt Snacks Lead in Dollar Gains
      • General Mills Closing in on Kraft
      • Private-Label Cookies Claim Largest Brand Share
      • Looking Ahead
    • Salted Snacks
      • IRI-Tracked Sales of Salted Snacks at $13.2 Billion
      • Salty Snacks the Largest Category by Far
      • Consumer Usage Reflects Similar Ranking by Product Type
      • Nut Snacks the Clear Leader in Dollar Gains
      • Frito-Lay Maintains Wide Market Lead
      • Looking Ahead
    • Trends in Healthy Snacks
      • Health Angle Essential Across All Categories
      • A Three-Pronged Trend
    • Trends in Kids and Teens Snacks
      • Walking the Healthy/Less-Healthy Line
      • Legislated Kids Nutrition Starting at the School Level
      • Good Prospects for Value-Added Yogurt
      • More Natural/Organic Snacks for Kids
  • Chapter Sweet Snacks - Highlights
  • Sweet Snacks
    • Introduction
      • Market Definition
      • Looking Ahead
    • Category Trends: Retail Sales and Consumer Usage
      • IRI-Tracked Sales of Sweet Snacks at $18.2 Billion
        • Table IRI-Tracked Sales of Sweet Snacks, 2001-2005 (in millions of dollars)
      • Snack Candy at $6.4 Billion and 35% of Sweet Snacks
      • Consumer Usage Reflects Similar Ranking by Product Type
      • Yogurt Snacks Lead in Dollar Gains
      • Expanding Household Usage of Drinkable Yogurt
      • General Mills Closing in on Kraft
      • Private-Label Cookies Claim Largest Brand Share
      • Yoplait Posts Highest Rate of Household Usage
      • Yoplait Claims Top Spots in 5-Year Sales Growth
      • Candy Bars Slipping in Household Penetration
        • Table Leading Marketers of Sweet Snacks, 2001-2005 (percent)
        • Table IRI-Tracked Sales of Sweet Snacks by Product Category and Segment, 2001 vs. 2005 (in millions of dollars)
        • Table Share of IRI-Tracked Sales of Sweet Snacks by Product Category and Segment, 2001 vs. 2005 (percent)
        • Table Overview of U.S. Household Usage Rates for Selected Sweet Snack Classifications, 2003-2005 (percent)
        • Table Dollar Change in IRI-Tracked Sales of Sweet Snacks by Product Category and Segment, 2001 vs. 2005 (in millions of dollars)
        • Table Growth Rates in IRI-Tracked Sales of Sweet Snacks by Product Category and Segment, 2001-2005 (percent)
        • Table Overall Household Usage Rates for Selected Sweet Snack Classifications, 2003-2005 (percent)
        • Table Top Brand Lines by Share of IRI-Tracked Sales of Sweet Snacks, 2001- 2005 (percent)
        • Table Top Sweet Snack Brand Lines by Household Usage Rates: By Product Type, 2005 (percent)
        • Table Top Brand Lines by 5-Year Growth in IRI-Tracked Sales of Sweet Snacks, 2001-2005 (in millions of dollars)
        • Table Change in Household Usage Rates Among Selected Leading Sweet Snack Brand Lines, 2003-2005 (percent)
    • Marketing and New Product Trends
      • Chocolate Candy Moving Upscale, Natural
      • Non-Chocolate Candy Targeting Kids, Scaling Up
      • Cookies Category Going Upscale, Natural, and Trans-Fat-Free
      • New Snack Bars Position on Health and Indulgence
      • Yogurt Products Position on Convenience, Health
        • Table Chocolate Candy: Top Package Tags, 2003-2005 (number)
        • Table Chocolate Candy: Top Flavors, 2003-2005 (number)
        • Table Non-Chocolate Candy: Top Package Tags, 2003-2005 (number)
        • Table Non-Chocolate Candy: Top Flavors, 2003-2005 (number)
        • Table Cookies: Top Package Tags, 2003-2005 (number)
        • Table Cookies: Top Flavors, 2003-2005 (number)
        • Table Snack Bars: Top Package Tags, 2003-2005 (number)
        • Table Snack Bars: Top Flavors, 2003-2005 (number)
        • Table Yogurt: Top Package Tags, 2003-2005 (number)
        • Table Yogurt: Top Flavors, 2003-2005 (number)
    • Brand Profile: Del Monte Fruit and Gelatin Snacks
      • Sales Grow $35 Million During 2001-2005 Period
      • Products Position on Health, Convenience, Kids
      • Consumer Demographic Is Generally Lower Scale
      • Looking Ahead: Scaling up with Gourmet, Organic, and Ethnic Products
        • Table IRI-Tracked Sales of Del Monte Fruit Snacks and Prepared Gelatin Snacks, 2001-2005 (in millions of dollars)
        • Table Timeline of Selected Del Monte Fruit Snack New Product Introductions, 2003-2005
        • Table Snack Brand Line Demographics: Del Monte Mixed Fruit Nutritional Snacks, 2005 (U.S. households)
    • Brand Profile: Dove Chocolate
      • Dove Chocolate Sales Up 44% in 2005
      • Dove Aims for Indulgence
      • Looking Ahead: Dark Chocolate and the CocoaVia Connection
        • Table IRI-Tracked Sales of Dove Snack Products, 2001-2005 (in millions of dollars)
        • Table Snack Brand Line Demographics: Dove Chocolate Promises, 2005
        • Table Timeline of Selected Dove Chocolate New Product Introductions, 2003-2006
    • Brand Profile: Pepperidge Farm Cookies
      • Cookie Sales Top $287 Million in 2005
      • An Upscale, Female Demographic
      • New Indulgence Products Go Smaller, Lighter
      • Looking Ahead: 100 Calorie Packs and New Flavor Mixtures
        • Table IRI-Tracked Sales of Pepperidge Farm Snack Products, 2001-2005 (in millions of dollar)
        • Table Snack Brand Line Demographics: Pepperidge Farm Cookies, 2005 (U.S. households)
        • Table Timeline of Selected Pepperidge Farm Sweet Snack New Product Introductions, 2003-2006
  • Chapter Salted Snacks - Highlights
  • Salted Snacks
    • Introduction
      • Market Definition
      • Looking Ahead
      • Popcorn and Rice/Popcorn Cakes
      • Dried Meat Snacks
    • Category Trends: Retail Sales and Consumer Usage
      • IRI-Tracked Sales of Salted Snacks at $13.2 Billion
        • Table IRI-Tracked Sales of Salted Snacks, 2001-2005 (in millions of dollars)
      • Salty Snacks the Largest Category by Far
      • Consumer Usage Reflects Similar Ranking by Product Type
      • Nut Snacks the Clear Leader in Dollar Gains
      • Expanding Household Usage of Meat Snacks/Beef Jerky
      • Frito-Lay Maintains Wide Market Lead
      • Brand Fragmentation, Marketer Concentration
      • Lay's, Planter's, and Doritos Lead in Consumer Usage
      • Private-Label Snack Nuts Lead by 2001-2005 Dollar Gain
      • Smaller, Healthier Brands Chart Gains in Household Usage
        • Table IRI-Tracked Sales of Salted Snacks by Product Category and Segment, 2001 vs. 2005 (in millions of dollars)
        • Table Share of IRI-Tracked Sales of Salted Snacks by Product Category and Segment, 2001 vs. 2005 (percent)
        • Table Overview of U.S. Household Usage Rates for Selected Salted Snack Classifications, 2005 (percent)
        • Table Dollar Change in IRI-Tracked Sales of Salted Snacks by Product Category and Segment, 2001 vs. 2005 (in millions of dollars)
        • Table Growth Rates in IRI-Tracked Sales of Salted Snacks by Product Category and Segment, 2001-2005 (percent)
        • Table Change in Household Purchasing Rates for Selected Salted Snack Classifications, 2003-2005 (percent)
        • Table Leading Marketers of Salted Snacks, 2001-2005 (percent)
        • Table Top Snack Brand Varieties by Share of IRI-Tracked Sales of Salted Snacks, 2001-2005 (percent)
        • Table Top Salted Snack Brand Lines by Household Usage Rates: By Product Type, 2005 (percent)
        • Table Top Salted Brand Varieties by 5-Year Growth in IRI-Tracked Sales, 2001-2005 (in millions of dollars)
        • Table Change in Household Usage Rates Among Selected Leading Salted Snack Brand Lines, 2003-2005 (percent)
    • New Product Trends
      • Potato Chips trend Toward Natural, Lower-Fat Varieties
      • Crackers Also Trending Healthier, More Upscale
      • Nuts and Seeds Go Gourmet
      • Popcorn Also Trending Healthier
        • Table Potato Chips: Top Package Tags, 2003-2005 (number)
        • Table Potato Chips: Top Flavors by Package Tag, 2003-2005 (number)
        • Table Crackers: Top Package Tags (number)
        • Table Crackers: Top Flavors by Package Tag (number)
        • Table Nuts and Seeds: Top Package Tags (number)
        • Table Nuts and Seeds: Top Flavors by Package Tag (number)
        • Table Popcorn: Top Package Tags (number)
        • Table Popcorn: Top Flavors by Package Tag (number)
    • Brand Profile: Lay's Chips
      • Growth in Newer Varieties Including Stax and Kettle Cooked
        • Table IRI-Tracked Sales of Lay's Potato Chips, 2001-2005 (in millions of dollars)
      • Trending Healthy
      • Younger, Wealthier Consumers Prefer Healthier Chips
      • Looking Ahead: Building on Healthy
        • Table Timeline of Selected Lay's Potato Chip New Product Introductions, 2003-2006
        • Table Snack Brand Line Demographics: Lay's Potato Chips (Regular), 2005 (U.S. households)
        • Table Snack Brand Line Demographics: Baked! Lay's Potato Chips, 2005 (U.S. households)
        • Table Snack Brand Line Demographics: Lay's Light Potato Chips, 2005 (U.S. households)
    • Brand Profile: Planters Nuts
      • Planters: King of Snack Nuts
        • Table IRI-Tracked Sales of Planters Snack Products, 2001-2005 (in millions of dollars)
      • Cashing in on Health Value of Nuts
      • Planters Nuts Have Universal Appeal
      • Looking Ahead: Maintaining a Focus on Health
        • Table Timeline of Selected Planters Nut Snack New Product Introductions, 2003-2006
        • Table Snack Brand Line Demographics: Planters Nuts, 2005 (U.S. households)
    • Brand Profile: Terra Chips
      • Snacks Sales Grow $35 Million During 2001-2005 Period
        • Table IRI-Tracked Sales of Terra Snack Products, 2001-2005 (in millions of dollars)
      • Natural Products with Gourmet Appeal
        • Table Timeline of Selected Terra Salted Snack New Product Introductions, 2003-2005
  • Chapter Trends in Healthy Snacks - Highlights
  • Trends in Healthy Snacks
    • Looking Ahead
      • Health Angle Essential Across All Categories
      • A Three-Pronged Trend
      • Natural/Organic: The Top Healthy Snack Trend in 2006-2007
        • Table Mass-Market Sales Growth: Top-Selling Natural/Organic Snack Brands vs. Overall Segment, 2005 (in millions of dollars)
        • Table Number of New Snack Products with "Natural" or "Organic" Package Tags, 2003-2005
      • Diet/Weight: Portion Control Out Front
        • Table Number of New Snack Products by Diet Package Tag, 2001-2005
      • Fortified/Functional Snacks: Antioxidants, Omega-3s, and Probiotics
        • Table Number of New Snack Products by Package Tag: Natural Tags, 2001-2005
        • Table New Natural and Organic Snack Product Introductions, 2006
        • Table Number of New Snack Products by Package Tag: Functional Tags, 2001-2005
        • Table New Fortified/Functional Snack Product Introductions, 2006
    • Consumer Trends
      • Healthy Snackers Favor Inherently Healthy Snacks
      • Energy Bar Usage Down Among Healthy Snackers
      • Healthy Snackers Go for Yogurt, Low-Salt, Low-Fat
      • Healthy Brands Not Alone as Healthy Snack Choices
        • Table Relative Household Usage of Selected Snack Classifications by Level of Agreement with Statement, "I Usually Only Snack on Healthy Foods," 2005 (indices)
        • Table Household Usage Rates for Selected Snack Classifications: Overall and by Level of Agreement with Statement, "I Usually Only Snack on Healthy Foods," 2005 (percent)
        • Table Relative Household Usage of Selected Snack Classifications Among Respondents Who Agree a Lot with Statement, "I Usually Snack on Healthy Foods," 2003-2005 (indices)
        • Table Relative Household Usage of Selected Snack Classifications Among Respondents Who Agree a Little with Statement, "I Usually Snack on Healthy Foods," 2003-2005 (indices)
        • Table Relative Household Usage of Selected Snack Classifications by Product Types Used Most Often: By Level of Agreement with Statement, "I Usually Only Snack on Healthy Foods," 2005 (indices)
        • Table Household Usage Rates for Selected Snack Classifications by Product Types Used Most Often: Overall and by Level of Agreement with Statement, "I Usually Only Snack on Healthy Foods," 2005 (percent)
        • Table Relative Household Usage of Selected Snack Brand Lines: By Level of Agreement with Statement, "I Usually Only Snack on Healthy Foods," 2005 (indices)
        • Table Household Usage Rates for Selected Snack Brand Lines: Overall and by Level of Agreement with Statement, "I Usually Only Snack on Healthy Foods," 2005 (percent)
    • Brand Profile: Nabisco 100 Calorie Packs
      • Sales Up Almost $100 Million in First Two Years
        • Table IRI-Tracked Sales of Kraft/Nabisco 100 Calorie Packs, 2001-2005 (in millions of dollars)
      • Calorie Counting the Easy Way
        • Table Timeline of Selected Nabisco 100 Calorie Pack New Product Introductions, 2004-2006
    • Brand Profile: Kraft South Beach Diet Bars and Cookies
      • Sales Near $70 Million in First Year
        • Table IRI-Tracked Sales of Kraft South Beach Snack Products, 2005 (in millions of dollars)
      • Heavy on Bars, Bullish on the Future
        • Table Timeline of Selected Kraft South Beach Diet New Snack Product Introductions, 2005-2006
    • Brand Profile: Stonyfield Farm Yogurt
      • Yogurt Sales Double in Five-Year Period
        • Table IRI-Tracked Sales of Stonyfield Farm Snack Products, 2001-2005 (in millions of dollars)
      • New Product Initiatives Are Future-Focused
        • Table Timeline of Selected Stonyfield Farm Yogurt New Product Introductions, 2003-2005
      • Consumer Demographic Is Generally Upper Scale
      • Looking Ahead: Reaching the Target Audience
        • Table Snack Brand Line Demographics: Stonyfield Farm Yogurt, 2005 (U.S. households)
  • Chapter Trends in Kids and Teens Snacks - Highlights
  • Trends in Kids and Teens Snacks
    • Looking Ahead
      • Walking the Healthy/Less-Healthy Line
      • Legislated Kids Nutrition Starting at the School Level
      • Small Dietary Changes Have Big Effect
      • What a Parent Wants/What a Kid Wants
      • Marketing to Kids: Is the Fun Over?
      • Troubled Waters Ahead for Less Healthy Sweets
        • Table Growth Rates in IRI-Tracked Sales of Selected Sweet Snack Categories and Segments Popular Among Kids, 2001-2005 (percent)
      • Focus on Fruit
      • Good Prospects for Value-Added Yogurt
      • More Natural/Organic Snacks for Kids
      • Candy Out Front in New Kids Snacks Introductions
        • Table Number of New Snack Products with "Kids" or "Teens" Package Tags, 2003-2005
        • Table New Kids and Teens Snack Products Introductions, 2006
    • Consumer Trends
      • Kids of All Ages Big on Snacks of All Kinds
      • Bite-Size, Fudge-Covered Cookies Are Kid-Favorites
      • Kids Brand Preferences Include Adult Snacks, Too
        • Table Relative Usage of Selected Snack Classifications by Age Bracket of Child, 2005 (indices)
        • Table Usage Rates for Selected Snack Classifications: Overall and by Age Bracket of Child, 2005 (percent)
        • Table Relative Usage of Selected Snack Classifications by Product Types Used Most Often: By Age Bracket of Child, 2005 (indices)
        • Table Usage Rates for Selected Snack Classifications by Product Types Used Most Often: Overall and by Age Bracket of Child, 2005 (percent)
        • Table Relative Usage of Selected Snack Brand Lines by Age of Child, 2005 (indices)
        • Table Usage Rates for Selected Snack Brand Lines: Overall and by Age of Child, 2005 (percent)
    • Brand Profile: Betty Crocker Fruit Rolls/Bars/Snacks and Cookies
      • IRI-Tracked Sales Slip in 2005
      • Building on Health
        • Table IRI-Tracked Sales of Betty Crocker Snack Products, 2001-2005 (in millions of dollars)
        • Table Timeline of Selected Del Monte Fruit Snack New Product Introductions, 2003-2005
    • Brand Profile: Dannon Danimals
      • Drinkable Yogurt Leads in 2005 Sales
        • Table IRI-Tracked Sales of Dannon Danimals Snack Products, 2001-2005 (in millions of dollars)
      • Drinkable Yogurt Ideally Suited for Health, Convenience
        • Table Timeline of Selected Dannon Danimals Yogurt New Product Introductions, 2003-2006
    • Brand Profile: Pepperidge Farm Goldfish
      • Goldfish Line Posts Growth Despite Segment Losses
        • Table IRI-Tracked Sales of Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Salted Snacks, 2001-2005 (in millions of dollars)
      • Products Position on Fun, Health, Convenience
        • Table Timeline of Selected Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Snack Product Introductions, 2003-2005
  • Addresses of Selected Marketers

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