Snacks are increasingly being swapped for meals in India: Mondelez study

Indians are snacking a lot more during the day, sometimes replacing a whole meal with small snacks consumed throughout the day, according to findings of the State of Snacking survey by consumer goods company Mondelez.


The American packaged foods company, popular for brands such as Oreo, Cadbury Dairy Milk, Tang, Ritz, among others, partnered with The Harris Poll to research snacking habits of 6,068 global adults; the research spanned 12 markets. Over 500 consumers were surveyed in India.


Snacks are increasingly being swapped for meals in India, according to findings of the study released on Thursday. “The average Indian adult now eat more snacks than meals on a given day, with 7 in 10 saying that they snack more today than they did a year ago." Over 70% of those surveyed by Mondelez in India agreed that they indulge in higher instances of snacking through the day compared to a year ago; this is far more than the global average of over 22%. And that they plan to snack more often in the next year, the study said. Indians consume 2.70 snacks, compared to 2.37 meals in a day.


Last year, Mondelez outlined its long-term strategy to highlight its renewed focus on “snacking" across markets. In 2018, Dirk Van de Put, chief executive officer, Mondelez International, told analysts and investors that the company now aims to have a “more holistic view of consumer snacking behaviors to sharpen brand positioning in clear demand spaces". Snacking is now a key priority area for the company that competes with companies such as Nestle, and Mars, globally. The State of Snacking survey is thus the company’s maiden attempt to understand global, and local preferences for snacks through the day and perhaps offer more tailored packaged foods in line with such shifting trends.


In India, snacking is clearly becoming a big trend with more companies looking at expanding their portfolio beyond chips and cookies.


The maker of Oreo cookies and Dairy Milk chocolate said that 71% of Indian adults prefer to eat many small meals throughout the day, as opposed to a few large ones. That’s way higher than the global average. The insights, said Siddhartha Mukherjee, senior director, strategy, insights and analytics, Mondelez India, are shaping the way consumers and companies are responding to snacking. “There is a clear movement, consumers are moving to larger number of snacking occasions, clear shift that trend quite pronounced in India compared to the rest of the globe," he added. One thing is emerging clearly, changing lifestyle trends, like time compression across emerging and developed markets are pushing the move towards increased snacking.


In fact, increased instances of snacking is a global trend too, especially as time-starved millennials seek more options. “The average adult now eats more snacks than meals on a given day, with younger consumers and those in developing markets particularly leaning into snacks as a meal replacement." This goes to say that consumption of small, and more frequent meals is on the rise; this is especially true of younger consumers. Interestingly, most Indian consumer snack mostly in the morning, especially before breakfast (31%). "Indians are habitual snackers, with 77% saying they “tend to snack around the same time each day", the study said. That’s much higher than the global average of 11%.


Moreover, study also found that consumers associate food with their local culture. As a result, Indians are “more likely than those in other countries to participate in cultural snacking rituals daily, with 3 in 4 Indian adults saying that food is a major part of their identity. Furthermore, 7 in 10 say they connect with their culture through the snacks they eat, reflecting the growing prominence of local foods and snacking options that have emerged in the country". Half of those surveyed participate in what Mondelez calls “cultural snacking" ritual daily as it offers them variety, and helps shape their sense of identity, apart from developing a strong cultural connect.


Interestingly, Indians continue to seek both indulgence and health from their snacks and meals, the study found out. “79% of adults in India appreciate the option of both healthy and indulgent snacks depending on the moment of need," the study noted.


Mukherjee added that the company has done more in the area of portion control, and providing offerings such as a low-sugar variant of its popular Dairy Milk chocolate brand rolled out earlier this year.