Mohini Nitturkar*


India is a land of spices and flavours. These spices and flavours make its dishes delicious and unique. Spices have always been an important part of seasoning in foods throughout the world. Indian food has a huge application of herbs and spices, like chillies, asafoetida, pepper which are also used as food flavours and enhancers.

Seasonings refer to salt, pepper, acids (like lemon juice) which are added to food to enhance flavour. So, a seasoning can be sweet, savory, or acidic.Seasonings intensify the food’s natural flavour without changing its base taste and cannot be tasted in the food when used in proper amounts. Flavours or flavouringsare ingredients that modify or change the base taste of the food products. Examples of flavourings are herbs, spices, garlic, onion, ginger, etc.

Seasonings and flavours are used in many processed food sectors, like ready meals, savory, sauces, dressings, snacks, etc. Savory and Snacks sector is the major user of seasonings and flavours. The variety of flavours available in the Indian Snack Market range from Indian Traditional flavours to western flavours.

The Indian Snacks sector is categorised as chips, extruded snacks, namkeens, nachos and others, with namkeens having highest market share compared to other segments. Namkeens mostly make use of seasonings and chips, extruded snacks, and nachos use flavours.

Majority of the seasonings and flavours used in Snacks sector are produced in India. There are many small local manufacturers manufacturing spices and offering it to different end-use sectors for seasoning and flavour applications.The leading flavour and seasoning manufacturers in India focus on leveraging opportunities to expand their revenue base. Companies are working on development of existing flavours and introducing new flavours by doing a lot of research. Some of the major key players involved in seasoning flavours are Givaudan, Kerry, IFF, VKL Seasonings, Symega, and Keva Flavours.VKL seasonings is the leading flavourmanufacturer for the snacks and savory sector in India. India also exports some seasonings like chilli to nearby countries.

Key players in Snacks sector in India-

PepsiCo dominates the organised Indian snack industry. There are many other homegrown brands which are doing well in the snacks sector along with international players. Prataap Snacks Limited is the fastest growing company in India’s organised snack industry and is the market leader in extruded rings. It is also in the top three in extruded snacks.DFM Foods with its brand Crax, is the second largest brand followed by PepsiCo’s Kurkure in extruded snacks. Haldiram’s is the market leader in namkeens followed by PepsiCo. Many other key players like Balaji, Parle are trying to capture share in namkeens by introducing many new products. Bikaji is one the leading brands in namkeens and has gained more market attention in a short time.

Types of seasonings/Flavours used in Snacks

 Taste is an important factor which consumers look for in a snack.Flavours and seasonings which enhance the taste of the foods play a very important role. Healthy nutritious snacks with a rich taste can attract a large consumer base.

Snacks seasonings and flavours are divided into two main categories, namely, traditional/ethnic flavours and international flavours. Traditional flavours include chilli, masala, tomato, ginger, garlic etc., and international flavours are BBQ, Jalapeno, Pizza, Maggi, and Mexican

Namkeens which contribute to a larger share in the snack market majorly use Masala flavour. Potato chips make use of various kinds of flavours in which salted dominates followed by masala, cream and onion and then tomato. Extruded snacks segment which gained momentum in the past 5 years offers various flavours including traditional and many international flavours. Cheese and butter flavours are dominant in popcorn and foxnuts along with masala flavour.

Traditional Flavours –

Indian/Traditional flavours are those which have been used since a long time to prepare Indian snacks. Salt, Chilli, Masala, Pepper, Ginger garlic, Onion – these are some of the majorly used Traditional flavours in different snacks. Namkeens are the major consumers of these traditional flavours amongst all the Snacks.

International Flavours –

Western flavoured snacking trend is increasing in big cities as youth demand internationally flavoured snacks. The use of western flavours is mainly found in Western snacks like Nachos, sticks etc.; however, some flavours are also being used in traditional snacks like bhujia, for example, Wasabi flavoured Bhujiasev by Haldiram’s

Taste preferences differ region wise in India, as flavours like lemon chilli, tomato, and salted snacks are highly consumed and accepted by consumers in North and West India, while flavours like Khata-meetha, Aloo chat, different masala flavours are highly consumed and accepted by consumers in South India

Major seasonings/Flavours used in India

Seasonings/Flavours play an important role in flavour and appearance of almost all the Snacks and greatly influence its acceptability.Snacking remains intrinsic to India’s consumption culture. Indian consumers are becoming more experimental. Consumption trend has shifted from price-based snacks to value-based snacks. Companies producing snack food items are demanding new food flavours and enhancers to differentiate their products from competitors.

Salt is the majorly used traditional seasonings in Snacks followed by Masala flavour. The usage of seasonings and flavours differs across snacks subsectors:

  • Potato chips come in all flavours from simple salted to the exotic flavoured chips and all these flavours are super popular. Salty, masala and tomato flavourshold more than 60% share. Other (12%) flavours include different flavours
  • In Extruded Snacks -Spicy, Masala and salted contribute to more than 45% of the share. This sector has great opportunities where different flavours can be used
  • In namkeens more than 60% is occupied by Salted and masala flavour
  • Packaged popcorns/Foxnuts are dominantly consumed in big cities in India and in rural areas people go for locally made popcorns with cheese flavour or simply a salted one

Most commonly used seasonings and flavours in Snacks

There is repetitive purchase of standard flavoured snacks like Tomato, Chilli, Masala by a larger consumer base, and the purchase of other flavoured snacks is based on consumer taste and preference. There is high demand for local flavours in snacks and trend is towards ethnic flavours. International flavours are in high demand in Tier 1 cities; however, these flavours also require the Indian traditional flavoured touch. Looking at the current scenario of seasonings and flavours in Snacks – Many key players have introduced new products with traditional flavours; like Parle has introduced new products in the namkeen sector making use of traditional masala flavour (Chatkeens lite chiwda, Chatkeens Gujarati mixture, Chatkeensfaralichiwdo), PepsiCo has launched new products in the potato chips sector, with salt &pepper, sundried chilli and tamarind flavour all being Traditional and ethnic flavours.It believes that these products will be a hit in the Indian market and will help in increasing its revenue

Consumers are looking for a healthy balance between taste and health. Although it is observed that most people consume dry snacks for the sake of enjoyment and feeling full instead of nutrition. But a flavourednutritious snack with same price is preferred more. Social media and internet penetration has given consumers an opportunity to look forward to trying new snacks. Many new flavours are on the rise catering to evolving consumer tastes.F1rst expectsthatSnacks with local taste and western appearance would drive market growth in the coming 5 years.The consumer shift from non-branded to branded snacks has also provided new opportunities for key players to introduce local flavoursin markets across the country.

*Research Analyst at F1rst. She has completed her B.Tech in Food Technology from Shivaji University, Kolhapur.