With the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic, we have witnessed a few industries collapse, a few diversify, a few strive to stay afloat and a few that have been booming. Snacking industry is one such industry that has flourished in recent years and has seen a massive upsurge in the demand for snacking products in India. The Indian snack market will boom to more than INR 1 Billion by the end of 2024 and is expected to grow with a double-digit CAGR for the time frame of 2018 to 2024.
Through the years, there has been a major shift in the snacking categories. Consumers are now moving to a healthier way of living and conscious eating. This has definitely paved the way for the healthy snacking category. Altered consumer choices and the varied taste of millennials have become the catalyst for fostering this shift. With the promising new-age healthy food culture and the emergence of health-conscious snack lovers, there is more demand for healthy snack options.
In recent years, we have seen a lot of brands introduce various healthy snacking options for the Indian population. But amongst all the healthy munchies options being introduced, we have seen Popcorn emerge as a popular snack in India. As per an online report, the global popcorn market is projected to reach $15billion by 2023, registering a CAGR of 7.6 percent from 2017 to 2023.
Popcorn is a healthy and nutritious alternative to chips and cookies. It is cost-friendly, easy-to prepare and an integral part of the entertainment and snacking experience. As the audience today is moving to healthier options and ready to experiment with different flavours, we have seen various players like Pipo, Act 2, Popcorn & Company capture the popcorn market.
According to another report, India’s gourmet popcorn market is prepared to expand at a CAGR of 36% by 2022 and will see a lot of new players foraying into the popcorn business. There are various driving factors that make popcorn the most popular snack and a growing business:
Popcorn is made of whole grain which is enriched with zinc, copper, fiber, antioxidants and other nutrients that make it a healthy snacking option. The presence of these ingredients makes it easier on the gut too, thus making it a preferred snack option for most individuals. Besides this, popcorn is also gluten-free, cholesterol-free and one of the safest and hygienic snacks to prepare.
Due to an increase in lifestyle ailments like diabetes, heart illness and the ongoing pandemic, consumers are making a conscious choice of shifting to healthy snacking. With the current work from home culture and lockdown scenario, people are living a sedentary lifestyle. Consumers no more give importance to taste over health, but at the same time they are looking to munch on something that is tasty as well as healthy. While regular fried chips and crisps require conscious eating, you can easily relish the pleasure of guilt-free binging with popcorn.
Earlier, watching movies in the theater with your popcorn tub by your side was always a go-to outing plan. Whereas today online streaming and binge-watching movies at home on OTT platforms has become the new normal. Besides, we have seen a new culture of virtual games nights, Zoom parties and Netflix parties that make you crave for a snack. Popcorn becomes the most preferred food choice to munch on for such occasions.
Consumer preferences in context to the snacking options are highly dynamic. With a fast-paced lifestyle and majority of options available in the market, munching the same flavor daily can easily bore the consumer. They are looking for an added taste and flavour.
To balance and cater to the taste aspect of a diverse population, brands are introducing a wide variety of popcorn flavours. This has led to brands introducing unique and delectable flavours like Cheese Burst, Peri-Peri, Hot N Spicy, Butter Lovers, Tomato Salsa, Caramel Bliss, Spicy Pudina, Tandoori Tadka, Desi Cocktail, and others.
With the entire lockdown scenario and consumers being prohibited from consuming outside food, at-home snacking has increased. Consumers are looking to munch on something that can be easily prepared in less time and is tasty. Its easy accessibility and convenient preparation method make it an ideal choice for those who live alone or those who have a large family. In either case, making popcorn is the best option to curb the junk cravings. It acts as your companion while you are stress eating alone or continually munching on delightful snacks over a game of cards with family.
Going forward, the category will witness a lot of excitement with the launch of new products and variants. The consumer will be more open to trying out new and ready-to-eat products that are a perfect blend of taste, unique flavours and convenience.
Today, as we ride through a devastating second wave of the pandemic, major lockdowns and curfews across towns and cities have again brought things to a standstill. Consumers are thus stocking up food and food ingredients, and at-home snacking is again taking an upswing. With this, the demand for popcorn is increasing significantly and brands are constantly trying to keep up with the demand. Its availability on online shopping and grocery websites has made it more accessible to individuals. Popcorn is definitely a versatile snack and can be a perfect health companion for any occasion.
The author is Joint Managing Director, Modi Naturals