Natasha Kumar
Natasha is Mintel's Food & Drink Analyst based in Mumbai. She is responsible for analysing and providing insights on India’s food and drink market.

At the Mintel Big Conversation Mumbai last week, Mintel’s team of local expert analysts discussed how India’s growth and development have resulted in a shift in consumer lifestyle and the ways in which this shift is percolating into the eating habits of Indian consumers.

Latest research from Mintel shows that majority of Indian consumers snack at least once a day. Among key reasons to eat more frequently include getting more energy, for better weight management, or simply to de-stress.

Even though snacking in India is largely driven by taste, more and more consumers are now focusing on the functional benefits that snacking can provide. As this demand grows, snacks will now have to deliver on the multiple aspects of health and indulgence at the same time.

Guilt-free snacking

Mintel Trend ‘Mood to Order’ describes how consumers are looking to manage their emotional wellbeing, and treating themselves with indulgent foods is one-way consumers are managing their moods.

Busy and stressful lifestyles, with less time to prepare meals, leave consumers in a position to reach for a quick snack, which may not necessarily be healthy. Mintel research suggests that there is a correlation between what we eat and our emotional state – especially when it comes to ‘stress eating’.

It has now become important for food and drink companies to eliminate the potential for guilt by offering snacks with functional benefits and/or mood-elevating ingredients.

Communicating health

With increased health consciousness and frequent snacking occasions, Indian consumers are demanding healthier snack options. They are already looking at alternatives such as nuts, oats, fruits and energy bars, which, in India, are not traditionally considered snacks.

Companies and brands can look to ride on the health and wellness trend and showcase snacking as a healthy habit by incorporating healthy ingredients such as native grains like jowar, bajra, or millets.

Another way is to explore benefits such as ‘energising’, ‘calming’, or ‘relaxing’, ingredient-based claims, and deliver tangible benefits which can help communicate the health aspect in an effective way.

Juice as a snack

Busier lifestyles have led to more and more consumers opting for juice as a snack while on the go. Functional drinks such as protein-rich juices are now being positioned as ‘liquid snacks’. Juices can incorporate herbal components to provide consumers with specific benefits, such as ginseng for energy and chamomile for stress relief.

Honey Lemon Spirulina Drink, Indonesia
E-lix-ir by Yourganic Honey Lemon Spirulina Drink juice shot is said to leverage the healthy power of lemon and spirulina.

Rewe to Go… Power Drink Protein Smoothie, Germany
This drink features apple, mango, parsnip and spinach juices and purees, coconut milk, and bean protein. The gently pasteurised drink claims to provide protein on the go.

Awaken Wheatgrass Shot with Apple and Pear, UK
This juice drink is said to be cold-pressed and contains all the nutrients of apple, pear, and wheatgrass.

What we think

The boundaries of wellness and indulgence are now blurring. And to address the taste-health paradox in snacking, the opportunity for food and drink companies in India lies in marrying indulgence with nutrition to help improve the health perception of their products.

Keeping this in mind, brands need to look at holistic products which go beyond single benefits. This can be done through the use of better-for-you ingredients such as nuts, seeds, and traditional grains in an indulgent snack format such as chips. These can also be provided in small portion sizes for consumers to indulge in these snacks while feeling guilt-free.