Lockdown Snacking Is a Global Pastime

Escapism comes in the form of cookies, cakes, chocolate and coffee.

June 30, 2020

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—People around the globe have been fighting continued lockdown boredom and anxiety with sweet treats and beverages, reports FMCG Gurus, a research firm for consumer goods, reports CNBC.

FMCG Gurus surveyed 23,000 consumers in 18 countries and found that 50% admitted to snacking more in May, up from 38% in April. About 60% of those surveyed said they’d purchased more comfort food, including confectionery.

“When it comes to snacking more frequently, the need for escapism from the pressures of daily life is a main reason for doing so,” FMCG Gurus said. Reports and data from around the world confirm that more people are turning to snacks as they spend time at home during the pandemic.

“We’ve been interviewing consumers around the world, and we can say that it’s clear there is increased snacking,” said Dirk Van de Put, CEO at food giant Mondelez, during the company’s first-quarter results briefing. “They are looking for that moment of comfort offered by biscuits and chocolate in today’s stressful circumstances.”

In China and Southeast Asia, lockdowns resulted in the “snackification” of meals, according to Ai Palette, a food technology startup that analyzed local language chats online from January to April.

Ai Palette found that China’s consumer demand for cake spiked 66% year-on-year from January to April, while ice cream saw a 51% on-year jump in that same period. Some of the products were made at home if people could not head out to buy them. Cookies and cakes were the most popular items in Indonesia, crackers ruled in the Philippines, and cookies and chips flew off the shelves in Thailand.

“Snacking at night and other non-regular times of the day spiked as consumers struggled to stick to their usual daily routines while spending all their time at home,” said Somsubhra GanChoudhuri, co-founder and CEO of Ai Palette.

In South Korea, Dalgona coffee is the lockdown beverage of choice. It’s a whipped drink combining instant coffee, sugar and hot water, reports Fitch Solutions, a consultancy, and it demonstrates a rise in price consciousness by consumers who are trading down for cheaper products, such as instant coffee.

“The effect of lower disposable incomes and uncertain employment outlooks will translate into consumers substituting their existing consumption choices for cheaper alternatives,” said Fitch Solutions in a report.

Swiss chocolate giant Barry Callebaut reported that its gourmet sales volumes were being impacted by movement restrictions and consumers’ access to shops and restaurants. Economic downturns in many parts of world are also weighing on premium foods, sending global demand for products like wagyu beef, bluefin tuna and caviar plunging, Reuters reported.