The study on snacking attitudes of Indian consumers said that, as products with ‘free-from’ claims on packs raise consumer awareness about specific ingredients to avoid, the demand for such formulations will rise. Mintel’s associate director (food & drink – India & Thailand) Rushikesh Aravkar said, “Consumers are looking at snacking more often and are also replacing meal occasions with snacking occasions. While 42% look for nutrition on packs while purchasing, taste remains an important factor. But consumers are increasingly looking at what’s there in the pack — whether it’s healthy or not. The concept of clean eating is evolving.”
Aravkar said if hunger and energy were the key drivers for snacking pre-pandemic, today it’s a search for comfort and stress-busting benefits that consumers look for. That’s a clear behavioural shift. With most staying at home, four in 10 Indian consumers say their snack consumption has increased. While 7 in 10 consumers say taste is more important than how healthy the snack is, 85% of consumers also feel the need for healthy snack options. The study, conducted among 3,000 Indian adults aged 18 and above, highlights how brands can emphasise naturalness and no ‘nasties’ as a means to justify snacking and remove guilt as these claims are being increasingly sought by health-conscious consumers.
Parle Products category head Mayank Shah said, “The trend of clean labels is catching up in India. While snack consumers are getting more health-conscious, taste still remains numero uno consideration. But a good development over last few years is that consumers are increasingly looking at labels and are avoiding nasties like preservatives and additives. This is a welcome change from earlier times, when taste used to be the only consideration and consumers were oblivious to what went into the making of product.”
Balancing the taste and health conundrum can be challenging for new product development. Gits Food Products director (sales & marketing) Sahil Gilani said, “We will not sell what we don’t relish ourselves. Being a family business, we take this very seriously and we have been an all-natural brand since our inception in 1963. Claims such as ‘no preservatives’ and ‘no artificial colours or flavours’ have been part of our labelling for decades. However, not all consumers trust on-pack claims. Hence, it is also important to educate them on the food technology being used to achieve naturalness. Our ready meals packs mention ‘advanced retort technology— preserving without preservatives’. Mentioning key ingredients on the front of the pack is also a good way to educate customers.”