With the pandemic shaping changes in consumer behaviour, the role and meaning of snacking in Indian consumers’ lives has expanded as they focus on balancing health and indulgence.

According to the latest global ‘State of the Snacking Report’ released by packaged food brand Mondelez, nearly 81 per cent Indian respondents stated they now replace at least one meal each day with a snack, while 74 per cent of Indian adult consumers preferred small meals throughout the day, instead of large ones. At the same time, consumers are ready to experiment, with 83 per cent of Indian respondents stating there will be more snacking options to choose from in the next three years. 

Convenience (80 per cent) and variety (86 per cent) emerged as the significant drivers for consumption of snacks, the report added. With the growing adoption of e-commerce and instant-commerce channels, the majority of respondents (82 per cent) prefer buying the snacks of their choice using the multiple channels (83 per cent). “Six in 10 of the respondents report shopping more, using at least three non-traditional or emerging channels such as delivery apps and DTC sites, more in the last year.” the report added.

Balancing functional and indulgent foods

Anil Viswanathan, Vice-President - Marketing, Mondelez India, pointed out that consumers seek a variety of snacks that can deliver a balance between functional and indulgent foods and they are not only looking at snacks for nourishment, but also to improve emotional, mental and physical health. While 83 per cent of the consumers said they are looking for snacks to improve physical health, 88 per cent for emotional health and 86 per cent for mental health, the report added. Eight in ten consumers are looking for snacks that help them improve their social health, craving bite-sized ways to connect with others.

“Snacks are no longer transactional items that people just eat to sustain their day between meals. Consumers are ascribing so much more meaning to snacks and nearly 78 per cent of consumers said they are looking forward to a snack during the day more than meals. This puts a lot more responsibility on us as a brand to invest more in the product, proposition and engagement with consumers,” he added. 

Viswanathan said consumers are also striving for a healthy balance between taste and health and focus on portion control and labeling is growing. “77 per cent consumers agree that certain snacks can be reserved for the enjoyment of snacking rather than worrying about nutrition, while 86 per cent stated that it is important for them to have control over the portion size and ingredients in their snack,” the report added. 

The 2021 State of Snacking Report was developed in partnership with consumer polling specialist, The Harris Poll, and insights are based on responses from thousands of consumers across 12 countries, including India.