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The changing consumer approach to the snacking industry
Thursday, 08 April, 2021, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Ruchika Gupta
The snacking industry has been about offering quick nuggets of delights while consumers jolt between their work and finding solace. Be it a tea-break at work with colleagues or entertaining guests at home with some refreshing sharbats, or even enjoying it while watching their favourite TV show - the snacking culture has for long been a part of every Indian household.

From the initial days when one would spend hours in the kitchen preparing murukkus, chips, or even a cherished regional delicacies like khakhras, fafda, bhakarwadi and more, to flocking between groceries stores to find that one snack that’s easy to carry and consume - snacking trends have changed quite a bit.

The Pandemic and its effect
A lot has changed since the pandemic. Health, safety and convenience are the three things that are gradually shaping consumer behaviour in this new normal. Brands have now taken a very informative or educational approach in their products. It is now beyond the taste and flavour of the product, and more about what it contains and the calories it carries. Many have realised with the rising work from home culture, the importance of eating healthy and staying fit. Therefore, the first conscious decision that consumers are making today is in the snacks they relish to munch on. The hunger pangs are being satisfied with a bowl of fruits or a glass of juice. Hence, for the snacking industry it is more important than ever to present products that scream health, sustainability and safety - be it millet cereals, roasted snacks, or even vegan/gluten-free options.

Additionally, snacking has moved from being a group affair to something that is enjoyed individually. The urban consumer that now stays in smaller homes and many in solitude or in smaller families, demands variety in smaller packs. They are the market with an increasing disposable income and a far more informed and observant audience than ever before.

Facilitating their demands, and adding to the convenience is the rise in e-commerce and hyperlocal services. They’ve been a major driving force in helping consumers, especially through the pandemic. These services have helped sustain the supply chain, through times that came as a shock to the economy. While many consumers did resort to cooking themselves, the craving for snacks still persisted.

It has been a lot to absorb for the snacking industry, especially that last year. Brands have changed their business models, introduced products that cater to the new demands of the consumers and sustain themselves through the pandemic. While grocery stores remained open, the disrupted supply chain between states did pose an obstacle for many emerging brands. Many brands are also adapting a direct-to-consumer approach, taking the entire control of consumer experience in their hands.

Bringing back tradition
It’s hard to keep the traditional Indian away from their traditional snack breaks. Luckily, these are now being adapted into a more healthier form. Instead of being fried, many of these snacks are now available in a baked or roasted form with no compromise on the flavour. Additionally, snacking is taking the fusion route - combining traditional flavours from around the world and presenting it in a platter to consumers, and this has been welcomed with open arms. Consumers today are more adaptive to flavours and experimentation.

It is a wonderful time to be a part of the food industry. With a consumer first approach, every brand is working towards providing high quality products that are tasty and healthy. Innovation and technology are driving the industry fueling research, strengthening production and supply chain to cater to an ever-growing consumer demand. The snacking industry is growing beyond imagination, taking a rather new route at every step.

(The author is business head for Gulabs)
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