The changing face of the Indian snack manufacturing industry

India boasts of having the biggest and largest food processing industries across the globe. Invest India reports this very trend in its recent study and states that the sector is expected to grow to $535 billion by the end of 2026. The snacks segment occupies a major share of the country’s food processing sector. While the pandemic rendered a significant impact on the market, it is gradually inching towards revival and growth.

The impact of the pandemic on the Indian food processing sector

With the pandemic outbreak last year when digital adoption was at its prime, the Indian food processing industry was prompt enough to embrace technological advancements. The snack segment in particular underwent huge transformations owing to the digital revolution. Automation ruled the segment and changed the face of the Indian snack manufacturing industry.

What is also worth mentioning is the tremendous shift in India’s culinary tradition and practices. In pre-pandemic times, consumers were apprehensive about consuming packaged foods. They were rather inclined towards purchasing loose food items from the trusted shopkeepers. However, with the coronavirus coming into the picture, they shifted towards packaged foods that came with promises of hygiene, safe packaging, and convenience. As a result, packed foods such as ready-to-eat items and frozen foods have gained popularity ever since.

The millennials, Gen X and Z have in particular carved the market for snack products in the country. The work from home phase last year was accompanied with frequent snack munching. The trend still continues and hence, the demand for savory snacks especially namkeen and confectionery items such as biscuits, cookies, etc. has been rising. With this surge in demand, the manufacturing, processing, distribution as well as marketing of Indian snack foods also witnessed a spike.

The evolving landscape of the Indian snacks manufacturing segment

Back in the 1990s, the snacks market was dominated by large players and a couple of regional brands. However, in the present times, both big and small players occupy a fair share in the segment and focus on introducing innovations. They wish to delight and surprise their consumers and hence bring about diversity in their offerings so as to offer the perfect blend of regional as well as westernized flavors. This is the reason why different parts of the country come with a diverse and distinct taste of the snacks. For instance, Western India has fafda, khakhra, dhokla, Southern part has murukku and banana chips and the Northern Indian consumers prefer potato chips.

Another remarkable trend that has been gaining prominence is the switch to healthy snacking. Consumers now prefer consuming snacks that are flavorsome for the taste buds, convenient to source, and are packed with nutrition.

All thanks to the changes in the consumption pattern, food processing especially snack manufacturing segment has become responsible and ethical. The modern consumers are now well informed and well aware. They thoroughly check the packaging and labels before making their purchasing decisions.

Digitization of the food processing sector

The industry does face some challenges ranging from lack of raw material, storage infrastructure, to wastage of food. Hence, the dire need of the hour was to embrace technological advancements to face these roadblocks, ensure that the quality of products is maintained and industry players can compete with the global market.

In order to cater to the rising demands of the consumers and increase the output of the sector, digital adoption emerged to be the viable solution. Amongst the plethora of technologies, automation picked up pace to enhance the operations of the food processing as well as snack manufacturing markets.

Taking care of the routine tasks and saving time as well as money, this new-age solution helps increase productivity. When machines take over the manual job, the food quality is improvised and the safety norms are adhered to sincerely. The coronavirus just expedited the process of digital disruption and hence the food processing sector, as well as the snack manufacturing market, is becoming increasingly reliant on automation.

The future roadmap

The snacks industry is one of the booming markets of the country. While it is largely unorganized, this scenario is expected to change in the times to come. As per Reportlinker, the Indian snacks market is projected to reach $23.36 billion and will grow at a CAGR of 13.24% by the end of 2026. Statistain its recent report states that in 2020, the value of the savory snacks market was valued at $5.57 billion and is expected to reach by $13billion by 2026.

Summing up!

The snacking trend might have been influenced by the West but the players have given it the requisite Indian touch and flavor. The Indian snacking sector has grown exponentially over the years. The change in consumption pattern along with the lifestyle of the consumers, the pandemic, and rising demand for snacks has changed the landscape of the snack manufacturing industry. They are significantly boosting the growth of the market and its future indeed seems promising!