Vipul Gambhir elaborates upon the change in heart of the snack industry

Against the backdrop of the pandemic, people are increasingly seeking to lose weight more than ever before. Initial constraints on movement — limiting one’s capacity to exercise — and increasing levels of comfort eating due to high levels of worry, all contribute to waistline concerns. Individuals, naturally, are become increasingly concerned about the short- and long-term consequences of obesity and would want to solve it.

Now, customers want the food and beverage industry to help it by providing solutions that make it easier for them to manage their weight. This is especially important in the snack industry, where customers are increasingly looking for guilt-free and conveniently nutritious items so they can continue to enjoy moments of indulgence without thinking about their health.

Interestingly, the current situation has made the concept of ‘mindful eating’ popular among a significant segment of people previously unaware of the ingredients needed to create the final product. The population of people looking for guilt-free eating is growing as they do not want to compromise on the taste of snacks but, at the same time, do not want to mess around with their health. The mindful eating, that once stopped them from relishing various delicacies, has caved in under the pressure of living life to the fullest.

The biggest hurdle was having snacks when you are craving something apart from regular food items. The munching tooth needed relief from the craving and the best way is to head towards the packet of snacks. Owing to the trend of guilt-free eating, snacking in India is evolving to become gluten-free and GMO-free. Not long ago, high-fat, high-sugar snacks were thought to be the only way to curb afternoon hunger, but companies are increasingly advocating more diverse and sophisticated products, with natural and organic brands (and stores) leading the way.

Resultantly, the snacking scene has changed dramatically in response to changing consumer demands. With their unique ingredients and end-product choices, conscious and innovative brands are ushering in much-needed change. Indians are looking for nutrient-dense options that don’t sacrifice taste while also ensuring they’re eating healthful foods. Innovative and healthier alternatives, such as hummus chips, baked wholegrain snacks, vegetable crisps, seeds and nuts, raw kale chips and savoury seed cubes are becoming increasingly popular among guilt-free snackers.

Popular Indian delicacies, like bhujia, are being experimented with by brands. Such bhujias, for example, are healthy not just because of the nutrient-dense components utilised but also because of the method used to prepare the final product. They’re vacuum-fried which, uses 70 per cent less oil and, keeps the nutrient content of the ingredients intact by frying at a lower temperature for a certain amount of time.

Beetroot bhujia, quinoa bhujia and other eye-catching goods are available. Consider how antioxidants in a snack like bhujia can help protect you from a variety of chronic ailments like heart disease, diabetes, and malignancies of the skin and liver. Bhujia, for example, has chemicals that help lower blood pressure, lower the risk of heart disease and improve liver function. Due to the availability of chips produced from rajma, brown rice and moong dal and the utilisation of innovative processes, such as vacuum cooking — for the previously popular banana, jackfruit — guilt-free snacking has become possible.

(The author is the business head of Yummiano, which strives to provide healthier snacking options without harsh chemicals or preservatives.)