“Pandemic Snacking” Is a Thing and Here’s How It May Affect Your Food Retail Business

By Published On: December 31, 2021

Gone are the good old days when snacking was just for kids when they were bored or for munching something between meals to “tide you over.” Due to the current COVID health crisis, several eating behaviors have changed—and snacking is one of those. Snacking has evolved from typical and sometimes unhealthy snacks to a renewed focus on healthy snacking observed across demographics.

Right now, due to the force of the pandemic, snacking behaviors have been smart and intentional. Consumers are looking for snacks that give them value for their money as well as serving to improve their overall health. Several factors such as snacking for distraction, boredom, and stress play key roles in overall demand and modified snacking behaviors. Clearly, emotions contribute to a heightened snacking habit.

According to The Hartman Group/ADM, 43% of consumers said they eat snacks to deal with stress or frustration, while 55% of consumers eat snacks for comfort in 2020. Likewise, a Mondelēz International’s annual State of Snacking™ report, which examines global snack trends and the role of snacking in peoples’ lives across the globe, said that approximately 9 in 10 (88%) of adults around the world are snacking more or at the same level during the COVID-19 pandemic than they did before. According to the same study, 54% of global adults have banked on snacking for nourishment during the health crisis.

Familiar brands of snacks are winning consumers’ baskets during this pandemic as evidenced by several snack categories which are leading grocery sales metrics. The salty snack category, consisting of items such as chips and popcorn, has seen a strong sales surge between 2019 to 2020. Likewise, plant-based snacks and chocolates are doing well during the pandemic. Since more and more people are relying on snacks for their nutritious intake aside from their traditional meals, healthy and value-added snacks such as veggie packs, salads, and other produce snack packs are expected to continue rising in popularity during 2021.

With the increased snacking habit of consumers, retailers are at the forefront to meet consumers’ demands. As these snacking trends are believed to continue throughout the year, and even post-pandemic, food retailers are being presented with a great opportunity. Reinforcing the supply chain with alternative better-for-you snacks, and grab-and-go food offerings will go a long way for comfort-seeking and health-conscious consumers. Likewise, integrating these snacking trends into in-store merchandising dynamics by using merchandising display cases that are not just energy and cost-efficient, but also well-suited for different snack formats, will forge a successful bottom line.

Retailers are forced to prioritize giving consumers more snackable options as these new snacking trends and habits are expected to stay this year and beyond. These do not just give retailers a chance to increase margin amid the turbulent years we are experiencing in the industry, but they also leave plenty of room for retailers to innovate their business processes, such as supply chain or operations.