Coronavirus (COVID-19) deeply disrupted snack occasions. In the short term, drastic reductions in mobility changed snacking from an “anytime, anywhere” to “always at home” occasion. Immediate consumption, impulse and experiential elements were substantially reduced, while portability became the defining feature of category and channel performance. This report explores how the pandemic’s evolution will shape the future of snacking, with key opportunities and threats.
Time-pressed lifestyles have defined the historic evolution of the global snacks market over the past decade. Fundamental lifestyles shifts have forced people increasingly to value their time. Convenient, ready-to-eat and portable food solutions, like packaged snacks, have thrived in this environment.
A lack of consumer mobility under COVID-19 completely reshaped historic snackification trends in the short term. Once an “anytime, anywhere” convenience, snacking moved to become an “always at home” occasion, reducing or even removing impulse, immediate consumption and experiential elements. Portability become the defining feature of category and channel performance in snacks in 2020.
In a mid-term defined by growing mobility but a persistent fear of the virus, snacks have a unique opportunity to recapture share from unpackaged products and eat-in foodservice occasions. At the same time, recessionary fall-out from COVID-19 and a lack of tourism flows provide significant threats in many markets. SKU rationalisation strategies by leading players also challenge an industry that has become reliant on ever-growing SKU counts.
Once a long-term solution to the virus is discovered, snacks will compete in a “new normal”. Brands need to embrace the underlying shifts in society and technology that have traditionally driven snackification trends, pivoting to emerging markets and healthier solutions. At the same time, the industry faces new challenges from a massive acceleration in e-commerce, growth in contactless retail and paradigm shifts in remote working.
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