According to a new report by market research company Datamonitor, consumers across Europe and the US are increasingly skipping breakfast and lunch, instead opting for products that are convenient and filling. "As consumers' lives become increasingly hectic, the opportunities for on-the-go food and drink consumption will increase, and the locations for on-the-go occasions will become more diverse," says Matthew Jones, consumer market analyst and author of the study. The report, The Future of On-The-Go Eating & Drinking Patterns, highlights that as a result of the fragmented meal times, afternoon snacks now represent 27 per cent of the on-the-go meal market, the largest section overall. As a result of the increase in skipped lunches, manufacturers are now being urged to tap into the growing trend for afternoon snacks that not only fulfill consumer desire for products that can be easily consumer, but that easily replenish energy levels. "Manufacturers can capitalise on this trend by targeting their products to specific mealtimes such as the afternoon snack, and making products available where they are most convenient such as forecourt retailers." However, according to the datamonitor research, the inclination to drink on the go reigns supreme. Due to the portability of the products, and the re-sealable nature of the packaging beverages have come up trumps with consumers leading a modern day 'hectic' lifestyle. On average, UK consumers are said to top the charts having, on average, 2.8 on-the-go drinking occasions per day in 2006, compared with the overall European consumer, who had 2.2. Datamonitor predicts that as consumers become increasingly pushed towards the 24/7 lifestyle, the trend for these products will continue to gain momentum "As this trend continues, expect meal replacement drinks and liquid nutrition to become more and more popular, as consumers demand more sophisticated beverage offerings" the report said. However, companies have raised doubts regarding the on-the-go snacking era, with food researchers in Italy recently developing a new process for the formulation of vegetable-based snacks in a bid to bridge the gap between fast, on-the-go snacking and meeting consumer health concerns. The team, from the Bari based Institute of the Science of Food Production (ISPA), used typically Mediterranean ingredients such as peppers, onions, tomatoes, aubergines and olive oil to produce crunchy, bite-size snacks.