- Since lockdowns began, 40% of people said they have been eating more snacks. A quarter have indulged in chocolate, 25% have had more soda and 20% drank more alcohol, according to Mondelez data reported by Food Ingredients First.
- Overall, the snacking giant’s data showed two-thirds of consumers have changed their shopping habits in the last 30 days with consumers seeking out trusted, familiar brands that provide indulgence. They have bought more chips, popcorn, cheese and bakery products, which have been particularly popular.
- "The increase in snacking is driven by the replacement of out-of-home occasions; the increase in family snacking moments as schools are closed; the need to relieve stress/bring ‘normalcy’ to our day; and the drive to create a moment of indulgence, or even a sense of nostalgia,” Jessica Vogl, global media relations manager at Mondelez, told the publication.
The increase in snacking is not a unique trend resulting from the pandemic. In 2017, a study from The NPD Group demonstrated almost a quarter of all snack food eating now occurs during main meals, up from 21% five years before. And those figures have continued to climb.
Last year, Mondelez noted in its "State of Snacking" report that snacking is preferred to eating meals for 59% of adults worldwide. Those percentages increased for younger consumers. About 70% of millennials prefer snacks to traditional meals.
Mondelez was not the only entity that has found a rise in snacking. Within a similar time frame, Innova Market Insights found 63% of millennials tend to use snacks to replace meals.
Interestingly, as quarantine has all but eliminated the typical busyness from life and kept people home, snacking continues to prevail as a popular option. Vogl told Food Ingredients First that snacking occasions are up 51% in the U.S. With continued growth in the segment, even as people can be in their kitchens with ample time to cook, it is clear consumers’ love of snacking is unlikely to change anytime soon.
In fact, when people return to life after lockdown, snacks have a good chance of continuing to be prominent in their lives. Innova noted last year salty snacks have proven to be the most popular meal replacements for consumers. Almost a quarter use them to replace lunch, and 17% eat them instead of dinner.
Going forward, companies can take advantage of the popularity of options like nuts and reposition them not just as healthy snacks, but as ways to improve well-being or boost immunity — two traits that could appeal to consumers who are worried about becoming ill.
Before addressing the needs of future consumers, snacking companies need to contend with the present. Mondelez said it was seeing unprecedented demand for its snacks during coronavirus quarantines. In order to provide access to familiar brands like Triscuit, Oreo and Ritz, the snacking company is simplifying its portfolio to prioritize offerings such as bigger pack formats. PepsiCo said the surge in Lays and Doritos sales will partially offset the hit taken by its soda segment, the company’s largest revenue segment, reported Food Ingredients First.
These snacking companies are also concentrating on e-commerce, which has become a particularly important channel as consumers look to shop without leaving their homes.
Long-time snacking powerhouses are not the only ones adapting to a changing world where consumers are relying more heavily on snacking.
Campbell Soup, which already had Goldfish and Pepperidge Farm snack brands in its portfolio, spent nearly $5 billion to purchase Snyder's-Lance in 2018, the company's largest-ever acquisition. The acquisition added brands such as Kettle, Cape Cod and Late July to the fold, making snacks responsible for roughly 50% of the company's sales. The company recently pushed further into the space, hiring seasoned snack executive Valerie Oswalt to head the snacks division in early March.
Other companies including Hershey, Kellogg, General Mills and Conagra Brands are also vying to grab consumers' attention. The continuation of lockdowns around the world may present an ideal moment for them to perfect their strategies and offer those indulgent, immune-boosting snacks consumers are seeking.
If these companies are able to bring consumers into the fold now when many are seeking comfort in food, it is likely that they will create long-time loyal fans that will consider the brands as trusted options, a designation that would serve any brand well in the increasingly competitive snacking space.