A special study was jointly done between March 2020 till February 2021 by London-based market research major Euromonitor International and PepsiCo India through its brand Quaker. The study highlighted that 44% of urban millennials, skipped breakfast and delayed meals due to increased household chores and late start to the day. Further, 64% of urban millennial respondents were driven towards healthy immune system. The study further pointed out that increased consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, including oats, emerged as the key trend during COVID-19.

Titled “Changing lifestyles and dietary habits of Urban Indian consumers post COVID-19”, the study was conducted involving 1,000 respondents in the age group of 18-50 years, focusing on urban millennials in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, and Kolkata. Launched to mark the National Nutrition Month 2021, the study analysed the changing lifestyle and dietary patterns of people post-COVID-19 to understand consumer behaviour. It tracked a changing pattern, particularly amongst urban millennials, towards dietary habits for a healthy immune system and maintaining weight. The study also mapped if changed behaviours would sustain in the future.

The study outlined that weight watchers must understand the significance of having meals on time and consuming nutrient-rich breakfast. Further, it found that 71% of urban millennials leaned towards the popularity of fad diets, including keto, intermittent fasting, and weekly detox plan, among others to maintain weight.

With understanding the dietary changes in Indian consumers, Vidhi Sharma, Consultant, Euromonitor International said, “While millennials acknowledge the importance of breakfast and believe that it should have wholesome nutrition, they often tend to skip breakfast due to their work schedules or tend to just grab a quick snack in the morning. Popular fad diets are supporting this behavior of skipping breakfast. However, COVID-19 has brought about some positive dietary changes as well among the younger group, with increased intake of fruits, salads, and oats, and improved the willingness to look for healthier alternatives while shopping”.

Dr. Jagmeet Madan, Professor, Principal, Sir Vithaldas Thackersey College of Home Science, SNDTWU, Mumbai, and National President, Indian Dietetic Association, said, “Meal timings are important for better digestion and to maintain weight. Breakfasts within 1-2 hours of waking give energy for the day and should include a variety of food groups. Focusing on high nutrition, exercise, and approach to a sustainable lifestyle will help manage weight and keep the energy levels high.”

Talking about the study findings, Sonam Vij, Associate Director and Category Lead – Quaker Portfolio, PepsiCo India said, “Breakfast helps to start the day right and provide energy for the day. The role of sustainable and nutrition-rich diets becomes even more important as they curb binge eating and help maintain weight. Urban millennials are now increasingly focusing on improving their physical and mental health that constitutes an active lifestyle. We also see that they are shifting to food choices for a healthy immune system as shown by the study. This has heightened the consumer adoption of Quaker Oats, a 100 % Natural Wholegrain which is a good source of Protein, Rich in Fiber, and contains important Micronutrients like Zinc, Iron amongst others. These benefits and more make Oats a convenient, nutritious and delicious option to increase the nutrition quotient in people’s everyday diet especially breakfast, which is one of the most crucial meal of the day.”

Additional key highlights of the study:

Nearly 60 % of urban millennials surveyed started doing yoga and walking/running during COVID-19 for physical/mental health activity.
The average intake of salads and fruits increased. Further, urban millennials consumed more oats primarily for nutritive value, digestion, and weight management. The urban millennials preferred oats for breakfast as the main dish.

The study also compared lifestyle and dietary changes (in terms of frequency and quantity of food groups as defined by the National Institute of Nutrition); analysed breakfast habits, personal health perceptions and weight management data; and tracked packaged food choices, oats consumption behavior and purchase pattern for groceries before and during COVID-19.

* “All reported findings are based on respondents’ statements and actual changes in behaviors or preferences may differ. Further, the figures shared are only representative of the population surveyed and extrapolating to the entire population is done at the user’s own risk with no warranty or representations from Euromonitor International”