Young consumers are keen on knowing every aspect of the products that they buy: Vikram Agarwal, MD, Cornitos

Snacking is a well-entrenched habit in most Indians. In the past few years, the Indian snacks market has taken this opportunity to introduce flavours that are quirky and out of the box. Since last year, the demand and consumption of snacks has grown significantly, making it a competitive space for different players. All the while, Indian consumers continue to binge on different snacks, eating away the blues in these difficult times.

   
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Snacking around the world, which was already a rapidly increasing behaviour, has only accelerated as consumers spend more time at home, due to these uncertain circumstances.

Infact, snacks have become multi-faceted. Not only do they give sensory satisfaction, but also provide the right amount of nutrition to keep you energised during your hectic WFH schedule. Munching on their favourite salty savouries provides people with a moment of peace and satisfaction and helps to distract them from the grim reality around them. This has resulted in a tipping point for the online snacks market.

Indians, with a wide repertoire of snacks, have been at the core of this global trend. Just consider this—around two out of five consumers eat more than 13 different types of snacks, as per Mintel’s analysis on Indian snacking trends. While almost half of the Indian consumers snack at least once a day, almost a third of the consumers are non-regular snackers. This reflects the ever-increasing competition in the market to leverage the opportunities engendered by this trend.

So far, potato chips and namkeen mixtures are the most commonly eaten snacks in India.

However, nowadays anything can become a snack. F&B companies are continuously experimenting with people’s palates and unique snackable products are being launched that go way beyond the traditional one’s already on offer. Just check out the aisle at any supermarket or mall—you will find corn nuts, barbeque or beetroot nachos, multigrain chips, tandoori foxnuts, cheese puffs, gluten free variants and many more too numerous to be listed here.

Considering that Indians are spoiled for choice, the Indian snacks market, especially the savoury one, is growing rapidly and competition is heating up. As per the Statista prediction, revenue in the snack food segment amounted to US $43,547 million in 2021, while the market is expected to grow annually by 6.42 per cent (CAGR 2021-2025).

As mindful snacking is a trend now, Indian’s are binging on their favourite snacks, while Indian brands are addressing the demand and leveraging the opportunity. Cornitos, the premium natural nacho chips brand, upon observing this trend, has brought in quirky flavours such as masala tikka, to the growing snack market. Vikram Agarwal, MD, Cornitos, in conversation with SME Futures talks about the industry dynamics and trends of this arena.

Edited Excerpts:

What are the market dynamics of the savoury snacks market? What are some of the challenges and opportunities?

The dynamics of the snacks industry are evolving. The brands are bringing innovative and healthy snacks to the market, that are healthy yet flavourful and consumers can enjoy them guilt-free. Hence, healthy snacks have become a treat for consumers and the industry is providing full-time offerings of these product lines.

As there are two sides to every coin, the struggles in the past year have led to a shortage of labour which is being seen as providing an impetus towards more automated production lines. There have also been several issues while porting stock from one place to another.

Hence, brands have launched their own e-commerce websites in order to take control of production and sales. If we talk about us, we too have launched our e-commerce website – https://shop.cornitos.in/

The current trend is healthy snacking, and it will continue to be one of the major trends for 2021 as well.

The current scenario has made people more health-conscious, and they are buying snacks that are healthy for them as well as for their family. The brands are taking care of this by introducing immunity-building products like our Super Seeds, Corn Nuts, and Veggie Nachos (available in Beetroot, Quinoa, Spinach and Melange flavours) range which is a combination of healthy and tasty snacks which can be enjoyed while binge watching their favourite shows or while working from home. Our products are healthy to eat as they are non-GMO, gluten-free, zero trans-fat, zero cholesterol and high in protein and fibre with nature-identical seasoning.

The next trend is an interesting take on easy cooking, that can be made for intimate get-togethers with family and close friends. The rise in DIY cooking has been rapid, with restaurants jumping on the food bandwagon as well and introducing chef-made kits that are easy to assemble on a lazy afternoon. We have launched Cornitos DIY Kits that come in three variants of Hara Bhara Kebab Wrap, Falafel Wrap, and Shami Kebab Wrap. They are ready to cook and can be prepared in less than 10 minutes.

Lastly, the industry is big on innovation and packaging. And the brands are either jumping on the bandwagon or starting afresh by paving their own way in the market. It is important to stay on top of the trends, but it is equally important to pay attention to the way the product is packaged as it makes all the difference.

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What are your thoughts on the rise of mindful snacking and how are the domestic brands responding to that?

There has been an expeditious rise in mindful snacking and domestic brands are following this trend to innovate with their products by introducing either smaller packages or healthier variants or a mix of both.

A smaller package allows both brands and consumers to take care of portion control, especially given the scenario of working from home all week and binge-watching shows over the weekends. A different perspective to this is the rise in the variants available in healthy snacking, like nuts and veggie nachos which are filling as well as lip smacking.

For instance, we have the Cornitos Pop N Crunch range, which is available in Solo Daily Nutri Packs, and also in re-sealable, multi-time use packs. The Pop N Crunch range includes Premium handpicked, Cashews & Almonds, Long Peanuts, Roasted Pumpkin Seeds, Natural Sunflower Seeds, Party Nut Mix and Coated Green Peas, all processed using the latest technology through the imported roasting line. We also have Super Seeds (a mixture of pumpkin, sunflower, watermelon and flax seeds) and Roasted Corn Nuts that come in 3 flavours i.e., Lemon Chili Cilantro, Spanish Tomato and Cheesy Jalapeno.

How does sustainability come into play in the snacking industry and how is it impacting the market? What are your initiatives on this front?

Sustainability is an important aspect, and all industries should play their part in saving the environment. We pay attention to the packaging of our products. Our products like CornNuts, Super Seeds, Peanuts, Pumpkin Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, and all the others come in re-sealable packs that allow consumers to re-use them or as an alternative to their packaging requirements at home. During the festive season, Cornitos has come up with a Reusable Bag of Happiness – Utsava, a jute bag which comes in three different variants, each containing 4 resealable multi-use packs of nuts and seeds which are a perfect blend for party lovers and health-conscious individuals.

Consumers, especially young consumers, want to know the details of the products they are buying- how is it made, what ingredients have been used, where is it made, etc. They are advocating more sustainable practises regarding the purchase of these products. The market is witnessing an increased demand for products/ brands that are environmentally friendly and offer all the details to the conscious buying consumer.

Indians have developed a taste for eclectic and global flavours while there has also been a rise in the number of conscious consumers. How has product innovation been inculcated in our Indian brands and how has this process changed over time?

All brands are working on getting innovative products to the market, especially those that gel with the tastebuds of the Indian consumer and are at par with global standards of production. The tastes of the millennial population are evolving at a rate that is at times hard to keep up with, ranging from healthy options that do not compromise on taste to bigger packets that can be shared with friends at a party.

For example, Cornitos Nacho Crisp is a Mexican snack with international flavours, catering to the Indian palate. It is a gluten-free snack, cooked in corn oil and made by the Mexican lime-treatment process of making traditional masa using stone ground non-GMO corn.

These unique flavours and healthy ingredients make Cornitos stand out amongst the other brands in the market. Cornitos products are non-GMO, zero trans-fat, zero cholesterol and high in protein and fibre with nature-identical seasoning. The brand portfolio includes Nachos Crisps, Veggie Nachos, Taco Shells, Dips, Mexican Delights, Nuts & Seeds, Combo Packs, Festive Packs and Tortilla Wraps.

Indian brands are now more diverse, how can they become global and what needs to be done to achieve that?

Firstly, brands need to create products that would be accepted around the globe, and then they need to market them in the correct manner. They can reach out to supermarkets and food exhibitions that allow consumers to test out new products and this is how one can build trust with them.

At Cornitos, we sell our products to over 30+ countries. Some of them are Canada, The UK, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, The Middle East, and Southeast Asia. The main export product is Nacho Crisps.

Global consumers have accepted the brand with an open heart and displayed their love for the numerous product offerings that we have like Nachos Crisps, Veggie Nachos, Taco Shells, Dips, Mexican Delights, Nuts & Seeds, Combo Packs, Festive Packs, and Tortilla Wraps. The consumers, however, have shown a stronger affinity towards our Nachos, Veggie Nachos, Cashews, Almonds, and Party Mix.

What is the roadmap for Cornitos down the line? What are the exciting products that you are working on?

E-commerce and product innovation will be the key buzzwords in the upcoming months. The plans for the coming year concentrate on creating a loyal e-commerce platform along with bringing more customers to the website. We would be creating smaller promotions around the Cornitos By My Side umbrella concept. Under this definition, there will be a peg with a kick of taste around healthy eating as well as focusing on our focus product – Nachos Crisps. We at Cornitos believe that growth for any organization depends on two major pillars, firstly the consumers and secondly the values of the brand.

We will be expanding our product range as well as capacity. We will be introducing a line of value-for-money products in the coming days, revolving around healthy snacking. We hope our consumers appreciate our new launch – DIY Kit, a product that is truly unique and has not been seen by the industry yet. These DIY Kits are available in three variants – Cornitos DIY Kit Shami Kebab Wrap, Cornitos DIY Kit Falafel Wrap and Cornitos DIY Kit Hara Bhara Kebab Wrap to make mealtimes super delicious. One pack of a DIY Kit makes six wraps, and one wrap can be prepared in less than 10 minutes.