Snacks fuel “comfort spending”: Inflation-strained consumers continue to indulge
08 Feb 2023 --- No matter the economic challenges thrown at them, consumers are prioritizing snacking indulgence with their purchasing decisions. In its 2022 Global Consumers Snacking Trends study, Mondelēz International reveals that three in every four consumers “always find room” in their budget for snacks.
FoodIngredientsFirst speaks with Nick Graham, global head of insights and analytics at Mondelēz International, who breaks down the yearly report, which helps the business to anticipate and plan for future consumer trends.
“A large part of this resilience is down to the fact that snacking plays an important role in people’s lives. Functionally as a cost-effective meal replacement or fuel to sustain energy on the go. Emotionally, as a comforting and affordable treat that provides a moment of pleasure and enjoyment in a world that feels difficult to manage,” he says.
“We’ve consistently heard from consumers over the past few years that making room for little treats in daily life, like your favorite snack, remains critically important for emotional well-being,” he continues.
According to Graham, there is an increasing recognition and acceptance that indulgence is acceptable as part of a balanced diet, and that some level of indulgence is needed for self-care.
The global retail snacks sales are set to grow 5% by the end of 2023, according to Innova Market Insights.
Dawn of indulgence
Morning snack consumption – from 6 am to 10 am – grew 42% in 2021, more than double when compared to the afternoon snacking increase, with the number of treats consumed in the afternoon – from 12 pm to 3 pm – rising 22%.
“We’ve seen a big growth in snacking occasions in the morning in recent years, as people have sought out alternatives to the traditional sit-down breakfast. And we expect that will continue in the future, as people start commuting to work again – at least a few days a week – and so will be looking for convenient, on-the-go solutions that provide the nutritious fuel they need to start the day right,” explains Graham.
Convenience is the primary motivator for early snacking, with snacking a meal replacement as two-thirds of consumers believe it is easier to grab a quick bite than to opt for a full meal.
Sixty-one percent of consumers eat a snack for breakfast, up from half in 2020.
Unwrapping new markets
Even when 86% of consumers say they already consume snacks (up from 78% in 2013), Graham believes there is room to attract new consumers.
“We still believe there is a significant opportunity to bring billions of new users into snacking, especially in emerging markets. In parallel, we will continue to look for ways to meet consumers’ changing needs, tastes and preferences, thereby unlocking relevant new occasions for snacking.”
Graham also flags that they are trying to increase the average number of food snacks consumed a day among shoppers. Buyers are now consuming 3.3 snacks per day, up from 3.1 in the last eight years.
Mondelēz International focused last year on emerging regions, showing particular strength in the Latin American market with an increase in revenues of 29.7%, booming to 43.2% growth year-over-year for Q4 in the region.
However, there is still growth to be tapped in consolidated areas. According to Innova Market Insights, one in four consumers in the North America region increased their consumption of indulgent snacks – more than the global average of 21% for 2022.
Paving the way for premiumization
Even if the average amount of snacks consumed has increased in the last year, the trend is for these foods to be smaller and more expensive, as consumers are more demanding and require more from producers.
“We are seeing a preference in quality over quantity,” he highlights.
“People are more mindful about when they indulge and take time to savor and enjoy the experience, which says they are more focused on quality,” continues Graham.
Sixty-seven percent of consumers would rather buy fewer amounts of their favorite snack brand than more from a generic alternative. Furthermore, 64% of consumers would pay more for snacks that are better for the environment and 61% would go out of their way to find their favorite snack.
Plant-based healthy indulgence
Seven out of ten consumers say that plant-based snacks are better for the planet.
“There is definitely a growing consumer interest in plant-based snacks and I expect that to sustain, driven by ethical considerations, sustainability and changing lifestyles. That being said, I don’t think the future will be entirely plant-based. Rather, we see a mix between animal-based and plant-based snacks,” says Graham.
This is in line with the growing flexitarian trend, where 30% of European consumers say they follow a flexitarian diet.
“Fifty-four percent of consumers report making an effort to eat more plant-based snacks, but when we dig into the data, we see that many of these people continue to eat meat or dairy, so in many aspects, it’s a case of people swapping out some of their choices versus fully eliminating animal-based products,” he explains.
Mondelēz International has a range of plant-based products, including Cadbury Plant Bar in the UK and Canada and a plant-based Philadelphia cream cheese in Europe.
“We can expect to see more plant-based snacks in the future,” concludes Graham.
By Marc Cervera
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