How and what people choose to eat is influenced by trends happening all over the world today: a growing awareness of well-being, changing family structures, and the scarcity of time. As people’s lives become increasingly busier, they have limited time to prepare regularly scheduled meals. This shift has led to eating habits evolving, with snacking becoming a way to eat for many – be it for fuel, a nutritional boost, and midday hunger relief or simply for a sweet treat to enjoy.
Yet, making healthy choices and snacking is not a contradiction. By being more mindful when choosing to snack, people can enjoy a satisfying boost without compromising taste or health. To explore how to help people snack mindfully, Mondelēz International hosted a roundtable discussion, focusing on how consumers can find balance between eating for nourishment and enjoyment, and where snacks fit into this balance.
‘Consumers are expecting more from their snacks today than ever before – looking for snacks that fit their lifestyle and help them achieve their well-being goals. As the world’s largest snack company, we know we have a critical role to play in encouraging people to snack mindfully,’ says Sarah Delea, director of external affairs and global health and wellness at Mondelēz International.
Mindful snacking is about eating with intention and attention; and being more conscious about what and how much you are consuming.
Globally, dieticians and nutritionists have acknowledged that modern lifestyles mean people are increasingly given to snacking. So it’s important for the snacks manufacturing industry to be included in discussions about nutritional habits and awareness.
‘The reality is that you can’t get away from snack products, so it’s important to engage with the snack food industry, and we appreciate that companies like Mondelez are including nutritional information on the packaging of their products, and commend them for having such discussions involving various stakeholders,’ comments Terry Harris, registered dietician at Discovery Vitality.
‘Mindful snacking is important in today’s world, as we are far busier than in the past, and very few of us have time to sit down for three set meals a day. Research shows that people are increasingly turning to snacks to meet their nutritional needs. People also snack in different ways, at different times, and on different foods. So we’re looking to meet these snacking needs with products that fit their lifestyles and well-being goals,’ Delea adds.
To this end, Mondelēz International, which makes treats like Oreos, Cadbury chocolate bars, Lunch Bar and Stimorol, has introduced portion-controlled packaging and calorie front-of-pack labelling, which informs consumers about energy content in each product serving. The company is also reducing saturated fat, sugars and salt; as well as adding more whole grains across its product line.
‘Since 2012, we have increased whole grains across our portfolio by 23 per cent; and we are continually looking at ways to simplify, remove or improve ingredients in favour of better nutritional value,’ says Delea. ‘This is part of our goal to become the global leader in well-being snacks, with half of our portfolio in the well-being space by 2020.’
However, to focus on or demonise single ingredients in food products is not very effective in changing consumer habits, Harris points out. ‘The overall nutrient profile is what’s important, we need to make people aware of what they are eating and how much. It’s mindless snacking that contributes to weight gain,’ she says.
To help people become more mindful of what they are taking in, Mondelēz International has pledged to increase its offering of individually wrapped snacks that are 200 calories or less, and are satisfying, by 25 per cent. ‘There’s no point creating portion controlled snacks that aren’t satiating. If consumers don’t feel satisfied, they just end up eating more, which is totally self-defeating,’ explains Delea.