Mondelēz International’s State of Snacking report highlights key market growth, including plant-based ranges

The fourth annual State of Snacking report from Mondelēz International has found a strong majority of consumers – 71% will treat themselves twice a day, with an even greater number, 78% doing so in a mindful manner, writes Neill Barston.

Notably, as its latest studies reveal, people are increasingly replacing meals with greater levels of snack consumption, with many people having adapted their lifestyles and routines from pre-pandemic patterns that had influenced their eating habits, according to the research’s findings.

As the US-headquartered business noted, its latest analysis, developed in partnership with consumer polling specialist The Harris Poll, complements the snacking group’s proprietary snacking insights knowledge– including macro trends from multiple sources that chimes with its motto of ‘delivering the right snack, for the right moment, made the right way.’ Its latest studies have been supported by additional research from  Ipsos and The Food Institute.

Significantly, the fourth incarnation of the report showed that sustainability remains right at the top of many people’s agenda, evidenced by 72% of people stating they would prioritise product ranges with reduced levels of packaging, backed up by 72% agreeing that they would typically recycle items. Three quarters of participants also stated that plant-based snacks are considered better for the future of our planet.

Furthermore, the report highlighted the fact that seven in ten consumers are noticing more plant-based foods in stores, especially those in Indonesian (85%), Indian (83%), and British (78%) markets. A majority is interested in experimenting with these environmentally friendly swaps, illustrating how people have embraced the movement as being far more than a mere transitional fad.

CEO and chairman Dirk Van de Put, writing in the company’s report, acknowledged that there were many major tests facing consumers amid the cost of living crisis that has caused a significant impact through inflation across a wide variety of food groups, including snacks and confectionery.

However, he remained optimistic that 2023 would be a year that will see the business continue to deliver on the priorities that its customers have stated are a priority, including creation of ranges that are trusted brands which also deliver better-for-you prospects.

“This year challenged our consumers and our business with new hurdles, from inflation and ongoing supply chain issues to the tragic war in Ukraine. Snacking continues to meet a growing range of needs across consumers’ lives, with indulgence remaining a welcome part of a balanced lifestyle. In fact, three in four consumers across the world (78%) attest “these days, it’s more important than ever to have moments of indulgence in the day.

“Consumers continue to turn to snacking as an accessible, affordable treat to ease or reward the demands of daily life. Despite rising grocery costs, three-quarters (75%) of consumers agree they always find room in their budget for snacks, especially millennials (80%).

“We understand these consumer needs, and we’re working hard to do our part to help address key environmental challenges, including striving for net zero waste packaging and combating climate change through science-based targets. We’ve also recently announced the next phase of our Cocoa Life programme for a total $1 billion investment through 2030. With this investment, we aim to catalyse ground-breaking sector collaboration to help address systemic environmental and human rights challenges.”

Evolving snacking
As the company noted, changes in eating habits and customs, more time spent at home post-pandemic, reduced mobility, increased importance of convenience in the work-from-home set-up, the need to reduce anxiety and the greater supply available at home are likely to have played a notable part in a shift of eating habits – with the market seeing a 42% rise in morning snacking among consumers, as well as 22% growth in afternoon snacking during its overall study period of 2013-2021.

According to its results, in 2021 there was higher snack consumption in the early hours of the morning. With a significant increase in main meal skipping, it is important to note that 40% of consumers said they “skipped at least one main meal yesterday” in 2021 vs. 30% in 2013, with breakfast being the most skipped. Notably, Members of Gen Z (those aged 16 to 24 years) along with slightly older millennials (25- to 34-year-olds), and specifically women within those demographics drive snacking growth. Among its core sellers is its Oreo brand, which last year marked its 110th anniversary, which Confectionery Production was on hand to help mark at the Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago.

Inflation pressures
The company’s studies noted that 89% of consumers around the world remained concerned about product inflation, with around 82% being more cost-conscious as a result, especially mothers (87%),  with over half of consumers (56%) reporting that they’re paying more for groceries compared to this time last year.

Furthermore, the results also found that consumers are most likely to report they are spending more on produce and fresh foods (56%), than snack foods (44%). In addition, snacks remain essential as three quarters (75%) report they always find room in their budget for snacks, especially millennials (80%).

Two-thirds of consumers (64%) agree, “in tough times, snacks are the one thing I can count on” (73% millennials and 69% Gen Z), while six in 10 (60%) believe snacking helps them take their mind off the issues of the world (millennials 71%, Gen Z 69%) – the same percentage who agreed with this statement during the height of the pandemic.

In addition to rising prices, supply chain issues also appear to be a concern. More than half (51%) of consumers around the world have experienced a shortage or delay in receiving
snacks in the last year, especially those in India (75%), China (62%), and U.S. (57%), and six in 10 (60%) are concerned about availability of their favourite snack foods in stores. Consumers report that wheat (53%) and cocoa (52%) products are particularly harder to find compared to this time last year.


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