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Challenges and opportunities faced by snacks industry during pandemic
Monday, 29 June, 2020, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Srushty Patil
The snacks industry would suffer from revenue loss of Rs 35,000 crore including the sweets industry in the current financial year in India due to the Corona virus pandemic.

The snacks industry has reduced production due to the shortage of labourers during a lockdown. Not only the economic crisis but also affect the purchasing power of the consumers. However, after the lockdown was eased, many namkeen vendors started home-delivery of these snack products for customers through online booking. But the business is not the same as it used to be before the Covid-19 pandemic

During this pandemic, demand of snacks increased in the families especially with children and senior citizens. The same is the case with bachelors/students. Hence, this category is included in the essential goods list. The distribution of the snacks in many cities and localities is possible by following regulations.

Shortage of trucks and drivers
Within each state, in certain cities, the snacks industry gets permission to distribute the snacks but in some cities and it is still challenging. The shortage of trucks and drivers is another challenge as many trucks were stuck at various check-point and interstate borders even the snacks industry has a good amount of stocks then also the distribution not done at the time of consumer demand.

The supply of snacks by the industry not in time and during the lockdown period everyone was trying to make some snack at home. Due to this, the demand for some snacks gets decreased and in fear of the pandemic some consumers were not buying industry made snacks. A lot of challenges were faced by the snacks industry during this pandemic. After lockdown, factories will start with 75% production but having 45% of workers and in some industries due to low financial budget in view of the pandemic, they may remove some workers.

Healthy products that provide ample nutrients
One of the biggest challenges of the snacks industry is for manufacturers to come up with healthy products that provide ample nutrients; yet, at the same time, do not take away from the aesthetics of the brand. This has led to a variety of nutrient-rich foods making it to supermarket aisles, labelled 'gluten-free', 'low cholesterol', 'trans-fat free', 'sugar-free', 'omega-rich fatty acid' and the like. So the snacks industry must continually adapt to changing tastes of the consumers and alter their offering to fit the consumer's tastes.

Portable snacks
Portable snacks are another challenge for the snacks industry. Even fruits and vegetables are not immune to the need for portability. Producers have changed their packaging to provide smaller, snack-sized packages of ready-to-eat carrots, apples, grapes and more. Portability combines consumer's need for fast, easy meals with their increased snaking needs. Healthy and portable these two attributes that create the epitome of what consumers desire in their snacks.

Another challenge is cheese, long known as a fat-filled yet tasty food for the consumer during the pandemic. Today's snackers want the flavour of full-fat cheese without as much fat. Not only do they require lower-fat cheese with the same taste, but they also expect other health benefits from it. Lower sodium levels, freshness, portability, organic milk, and healthier milk sources all can increase sales of cheese snacks, as these meet consumer demand. On the packaging, it touts its lactose-free benefits. Portable cheese sticks to its line of all-natural, premium cheese get more to produce.

Access in harvesting
Opportunities for the snacks industry after pandemic include access in harvesting from raw material to finish snack products like advancement and precaution at every stage of procurement of raw material, preservation in terms to supply finish products to consumer demand in taste as well as appearance. Maintain the temperature of the truck during storage because some time truck drivers during transport shut down the button of the temperature to save the energy so the sensor should be applied in the tanker. Export of the product with all the precautions and on-time delivery to the consumer.
Some workers go home and not come for work during a pandemic for this we can go for the automation i.e., industry 4.0 should be applied rather than a manual operator. This will give digital transformation of manufacturing and production with the value creation process the snack product will be produced in a short time with good quality in the presence of fewer workers. The starting installation amount is high but later it will give the lifetime investment to that industry. When such a pandemic happens that will not hamper the business of that industry.

Innovate the snack
Use of advanced technology such as new research and development in the snack product and production of new products with the help of food technologies. During pandemic consumers more attracted to innovative products in terms of health benefits, vegetarian, protein-rich, antioxidant, vitamin-fortified like vitamin D and A products, so we can innovate the snack by fortifying or adding this component.

Consumer is more cautious to purchase outsider products mainly snacks from the industry so the awareness of the consumer is must through television and ads so they can purchase the products. The presence of snacks industry on e-commerce platforms like BigBasket and Grofers will help to fill the gap between demand and supply. An Amazon like company has also participated in the online supply of the snack product and direct and safe delivery to the consumer’s home.

Business model change from single to multiple and use of the right plan for the interrupted supply of snack product during a pandemic - Centralised production of the snack depends on the single model, single location of manufacturing or stock, disrupted in supply chain and logistics, limited inventory, and manpower dependency. We can improve our supply chain to smart technology and decentralised production of the snack products due to snack products easily available to consumers. Modified the crisis management system of the company that we learn from Covid-19 and prepared for the right plan again such pandemic not hamper to the production of snack product and buying behaviour of the consumers.  

(The author is Ph D scholar, Dairy Chemistry Division, NDRI, Karnal, Haryana)

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