Among many lifestyle changes the Coronavirus-induced lockdown has brought about, one major one is our snacking and indeed our food habits to a great extent. As we stay confined in our homes, anxious and anticipating what’s next, ready-to-eat savouries have become our instant companions, offering satisfaction as well as a sense of contentment.
So, at a time when most sectors in the economy are adversely hit, how does this lifestyle change impact the snacks market in the country?
Forced to observe stringent social distancing norms and avoid unnecessary outdoor activity, staying and even working from home is the new normal. As work from home possibly demands more productivity and turnarounds, there is nothing like a biscuit or a cracker that relieves us from the immediate pressure of work while offering mental stimulus for further productivity. Additionally, the relative isolation and Coronavirus-related anxiety is a hidden trigger for craving such snacks which eventually work as a morale-booster.
Online Ordering & Home Delivery
Globally, Google search for food delivery services surged by 300 percent during the Coronavirus-enforced lockdown.
Within India, a survey revealed
– Over 70 percent of urban consumers prefer to purchase items from retailers that offer home-delivery services
– 78 percent consumers are disposed towards digital payments
So, with an upturn in demand for packaged snacks, snacks companies are making frenzied tie-ups with popular online food delivery service companies with a view to target the increasingly ‘at-home’ customer segment.
At the same time, they are also forging links with supermarket and hypermarket retail brands to ensure that their offerings are available in plenty for the offline customers too. A prominent retail firm reported more than 50 percent growth in biscuits and snacks category as compared against pre-corona times.
Value Packs Driving Growth
COVID-19 has in some ways impacted most of our pockets. This pressure has not only forced many to migrate from regular food to snacks but also opt for smaller value packs priced more modestly. For millions of migrant workers departing for homes as also for Coronavirus warriors in the line of duty, these affordable and instant treat options became the go-to choices.
For instance, a top dairy brand with a chain of outlets across the country saw a surge in demand for its biscuits, chocolates, and Indian sweets.
Healthy Snacks V/s Guilty Pleasures
Even as the ongoing epidemic scare has made people more health-conscious driving them towards healthier snacking options, the unhealthy guilty pleasure snacks have equally been in demand. While snack companies are making more sugar-free and immunity-strengthening alternatives adding nutritional value to their products, subscription-based healthy snack boxes are on the rise.
In a survey, about 90 percent of those surveyed admitted to being more wary about health, cleanliness and safety issues post COVID-19. Yet, the guilty pleasure snacks – a coping mechanism tool – have also retained their charm for consumers. 60-70 percent rise in sales of baking ingredients with people at home wanting to replicate ‘restaurant style’ bakery products during the lockdown period is a testimony to that fact.
Packaged V/s Unpackaged Snacks Segment
Although both packaged and unpackaged snacks felt the initial jitters of supply chain disruptions and logistical upheavals, the packaged snack segment quickly recovered and registered impressive performance. However, the unpackaged category including namkeens and Indian sweets have suffered. Lying largely in the unorganised sector, the Coronavirus-led reverse migration has led to workflow disruption, production falls and losses. Businesses have projected that sweets and namkeen product turnover may plunge by 35 percent as compared to last year. However, once the lockdown eased, this segment too started showing signs of revival.
Blooming Snacks Culture
Even before COVID-19, snacking was gaining popularity. A huge section of young population was already switching from the regular three-meals-a-day to many small meals. The snack segment is the obvious gainer. In a survey conducted last year, 75 percent of Indians had termed snacking as the future of food. About the same percentage also reported snacking more than they did just a year ago.
Now with the relaxations in lockdown, even as snack businesses revive further, the consumers won’t be able to let go off the good snacking habits that they cultivated during COVID. In conclusion, the Indian snack industry is poised for glory years.