• Mohini *
    Is it true that nowadays Processed Indian traditional snacks are gaining more popularity than the western snacks in India? Does this apply for most of the regions in India? Well, the answer is Yes! The traditional Snack market is expanding at a rapid rate as demand from people especially youngsters for traditional snacks is increasing in most of the regions in India.
    Indian Traditional snacks have had a long and elaborate history filled with vibrant spices and tasty flavours. India has been through flavourful adventures resulting in the creation of new snacks like dry samosa, dry kachori, vegetable chips, flavoured makhanas, etc. and recreation of many old ones such as murukku and papad using different flour bases, etc. Processed Indian Traditional Snacks can be defined as Snacks that are that are produced using the traditional formulation (flavors, ingredients) to match the traditional taste and traditional recipe and packed in such a way that the shelf life of the product is increased.
    Indian snacks market is classified into organised and unorganised; currently, the unorganised sector is dominating with nearly 60% market share. According to F1rst, the organised Indian Savoury Snack market was valued at nearly INR 41,000 Crore in 2021 and is expected to reach INR 69000 Crore in 2027 at a CAGR of nearly 7.3%. The savoury snack market is broadly classified into Indian Traditional Snacks and Western Snacks. Both the snack categories hold a good position in the market, and each contributes to nearly 50% of the total snack market. The Organised Traditional Snack market comprises Namkeen ethnics, Bhujia/sev, Dals, Nuts and Mixtures and Organised Western Snacks include Chips, Extruded Snacks, Nachos, and related products.
    India has a culture of consumption of home-made snacks during festivals and during tea breaks. Since India is a country of diversity, the snacks vary not only with the festivals but also with geographies. The choice and preference of not only snacks but all foods differ from state to state and region to region. Snacks are typically designed to be portable, nutritious, and satisfying and usual considered ‘in-between meal’. These snacks are a form of convenience foods and are designed to be less perishable, tastier, and more portable than prepared foods. Western and Processed Indian traditional snacks often contain substantial amounts of sweeteners, preservatives, and appealing ingredients like nuts and flavours.
    Processed Indian Traditional Snack market has shown tremendous growth in the past couple of years Increasing trend towards Processed traditional snacks and traditional flavours has created a huge demand for Traditional Snacks in the market. Traditional snacks have great importance in different festivals celebrated in various parts of the country.
    The traditional snack food sector has multiple folds with hidden and seasonal influences on the market. The taste, size, shape, and appearance of traditional snacks is very attractive which is why they are gaining popularity and importance not only in India but also around the world.
    The major types of Traditional Indian Snacks are:
  • Fresh/ Hot Snacks –Vada, Samosa, Poha, bhajji, etc
  • All time dry Snacks – Chiwda, Bhadang, Khakra, etc
  • Sweet Snacks – Pedha, Mysore pak, Gulab Jamun, Laadu, etc
  • Fryums/Ready to fry Snacks – Papad
  • Fried Snacks – Dals, namkeen mix, sev, namkeen ethnics (Chakli, bakharwadi)
    Most of the traditional Snacks are mostly prepared at home or at small scale level. The taste is also specific to the particular region and any change in formulation changes the taste of the product. Fresh and Hot Foods are mostly served by street food thelas, dhabas, etc.
    To maintain consistency in the taste and to turn personal skills into automation is the major challenge for large scale production of Processed Indian Traditional Snacks. The sector is moving towards greater organised presence; some national snack players have started to take local products global. Many products are exported to different parts of the world.

Key Players in Processed Indian Traditional Snacks:

By standardising the taste and ingredients, preserving formulation and automation in manufacturing processes, many players have started large scale production of traditional snacks. This has become a much larger sector with investment and innovation. Key players like Balaji Wafer, Bikaji Foods International, Bikanervala Foods, Haldiram’s, Parle Products are involved in manufacturing traditional snacks along with western snacks like chips and extruded products. According to F1rst, Haldiram’s is the leading player accounting for more than 40% of the share in processed traditional snacks. Having witnessed unprecedented growth in recent years, key players are introducing new products especially in the namkeen sector, like – Parle introduced Lite Chiwda, Gujarati Mixture and Farali Chiwda, under Chatkeens’ brand in August 2021, Bikano introduced 6 masala based snacks during the festive season of Holi (March 2021). Earlier these snacks were either home-prepared or purchased from a local player, but as the health consciousness trend is increasing and people are more concentrating on the hygiene part, the branded market is rising. The key players are raising marketing expenditures, during festive seasons to achieve more sales. Products are launched in attractive festive packaging for gifting purposes as well. Keeping the health trend and preference for local products in mind players are making use of healthy ingredients and local flavours. The products that were previously not sold as a packaged item such as mini samosa, bhel puri, bakharwadi are also being sold now by branded players.

Covid Impact:

Covid-19 has increased the overall snacking trend. The pandemic has changed the lifestyle of people as there has been increasing demand for ready-to-cook and ready-to eat products. Packaged products are generally considered healthy and hygienic. After the pandemic people have become more conscious about hygiene and are preferring hygienically packed products over the products available in loose formats. The strict 2-month lockdown made ‘working from home’ a norm and people explored most traditional snack items, increasing the demand for the same. Children and youngsters always need something to chew and satisfy their hunger, which again increased the demand for larger packs of snack products. The uncertainty in the market due to Covid-19 caused a turbulence in the market, but it soon recovered as the sales of convenience food increased soon after the pandemic. Adoption of digital platforms accelerated the sales of Snack items during and post pandemic. Local players also explored multiple ways to digitise their operations and provide their products to the consumers.


Tier-III cities were always in favour of traditional snacks, but in recent years, the taste preferences of Tier-II and Tier-I cities have evolved and are shifting toward the processed Indian traditional snacks. F1rst observes that increasing demand for healthy snacks and exploring different traditional snacks along with greater emphasis on hygiene is driving the traditional snacks market in India. The high economic development in India has resulted in changing preferences of the Indian consumers. People have become more value oriented than price oriented. Branded players in processed traditional snacks are capturing most of the regions in India and introducing various products. The shelf life of namkeens/ethnic snacks has been made longer because of easy pouch packaging and, hence it can be consumed during travelling and can be stored for more number of days. F1rst estimates that in the traditional snacks sector, namkeen mixtures and dals have a higher CAGR compared to Bhujia and sev. Traditional snacks that are famous in particular regions have also been captured by the local key players who have expanded the production so that the product can be enjoyed at all places in India. The online selling of the snacks to different states, advertisement on social media, introducing a snack famous in particular area to other parts of the country through advertisements is encouraging people to try out hygienically packed snack products and is gaining much popularity. Namkeen sector is expected to grow at a high rate and the branded or organised traditional snack sector will dominate the snack market in the next few years.

*Mohini is currently working as a research analyst at f1rst, having received her education in Food Technology from Shivaji University. Mohini has worked on several research projects during her tenure at F1rst. For further information, reach out to mohini@firstmr.com