- Snacking has become a “lifeline” during the pandemic with 88% of adults saying they are snacking more or the same than they were before the outbreak, Mondelez International found in its second State of Snacking report sent to Food Dive. The survey of 6,292 adults found 70% of millennials and 67% of those working from home during the pandemic prefer snacking over meals.
- Snacking has shifted to be a more solo activity with comfort being the No. 1 driver and more than half (53%) of consumers buying nostalgic childhood brands. At the same time, 64% of adults are relying on snacks to nourish their body, mind and soul while 56% are seeking options that are immunity boosting.
- Similar to other categories in food and beverage, the snacking industry has been changing during the pandemic. Industry reports indicate salty snacks and e-commerce shopping have been growing in popularity — something the latest Mondelez report confirmed with its findings.
The pandemic has accelerated the rise of snacking as an alternative to meals at a quicker pace. Last year, the Mondelez State of Snacking report found 59% of adults worldwide preferred snacking to a more traditional meal compared to two-thirds of consumers this time around.
Much of this fast growth is attributable to the lockdowns and the altered eating habits spurred on by the pandemic. The Food & Health Survey from the International Food Information Council noted 85% of individuals have changed their diet in some way with snacking becoming more prevalent. Mondelez reported in May that since lockdowns began, 40% of people said they have been eating more snacks — both as a substitute for a meal as well as a supplement in between meals.
Although demand across the board is rising, not all snacks are created equal. Mondelez’s new report showed the salty snacks category, which includes chips, popcorn and pretzels, has been especially strong with sales jumping 7% between 2019 and 2020. A new Innova Market Insights report supported this finding that salty snacks are popular substitutes for meals with almost a quarter of consumers using them to replace lunch and 17% eating them instead of dinner.
Interestingly, North Americans also have favored chocolate, a category Mondelez said grew 7% from last year. Other studies have echoed North America’s love of this treat. Data from the National Confectioners Association show sales of chocolate rose 5.5% between March 15 and Aug. 9 of this year. Premium chocolate experienced an even greater jump with sales spiking 12.5%. This finding makes sense as Cadbury maker Mondelez reported “to reward myself,” “to boost mood” and “to relax” as the top reasons following “comfort” that consumers are seeking out snacks.
Even though this report noted the majority of snacking takes place at home, not all distribution channels are equally favored by consumers. Half of global adults say they have started to buy snacks online more often than they do in-store or offline (47%), with 69% planning to continue shopping for snacks online once the pandemic is over.
E-commerce not only is convenient for consumers but it allows companies to track shopper purchases and gain insight into what people are putting in their virtual baskets. This can help companies better tailor their product mixes to more closely align with consumer demand. Many companies have already responded by rolling out direct-to-consumer platforms that focus on popular staples, including PepsiCo, Mondelez and Unilever.
Not all snacks are going to benefit from the trends identified by Mondelez. Options that sit on either extreme of the scale such as nutrition bars or overtly-indulgent cakes are less likely to appeal to consumers that are seeking mindful indulgence with an eye toward health. Following the onset of the coronavirus, Bernstein said sales of performance nutrition bars dropped 20%. On the other side, analysis from Innova noted foods focused on nutrition and immune health will dominate consumer choices in 2021.
With habits shifting, manufacturers would do well to pay attention in order to take advantage of the growing popularity of the $1.2 trillion snacking segment that shows no sign of slowing down.