You can take our booze, and our cigarettes, but you can’t take our snacks! South Africans are turning to their favourite treats for comfort during the Coronavirus pandemic…

Lockdown regulations and economic restrictions have forced South African consumers to change their shopping habits. Potentially long queues at stores have led to shoppers buying more items at once, and visiting shops less frequently. They’re also going to stores closer to home in order to limit their potential exposure to the virus.

Along with our shopping behaviour, our snacking behaviour has also changed

“This shift is as a result of greater in-home consumption,” says Russell Dennis, Director Category Planning & Activations, Southern, Central and East Africa, Mondel?z International.

“We have seen a rise in the snacking category, with biscuits and groceries like baking powder in particular becoming more popular as we see more activity in the home. Chocolate, on the other hand, has remained flat – even in light of the fact that Easter fell during the lockdown period. Data has shown that there is also a drop off in gum and candy which could be attributed to less out of home activity,” says Dennis.

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64% of people are snacking more throughout the day

According to Kantar research, eating habits are changing as people try to build a sense of normalcy. Snacking forms a key part of this. It could also be due to the fact that many more people are working from home, and now have access to their snack stash throughout the day.

“Our research found that 64% of people are snacking more throughout the day, and that 72% are trying new recipes – this is largely because, with more time at home, fewer opportunities to shop and scarcity of some ingredients, people are trying new recipes and likely making more from store cupboard ingredients,” says Norman Reyneker, Director – Retail, Sales and Shopper at Kantar.

SA is extremely price-sensitive

According to Nielsen research, South Africa is the second most price sensitive country in the world. With the economic impact of the pandemic on consumers’ pockets, snacking behaviour will alter accordingly.

Dennis believes that even as behaviour changes, South Africans will continue to enjoy their snacks as food is used to “nourish the body, mind and soul, with indulgence remaining a priority.”

The form of snacking, however, will change.

“We are likely to increasingly see snacking as an experience built around moments of joy, sharing or indulgence in the home, such as family snacking based on occasions like watching TV, lunching together and just munching in between meal times,” adds Dennis.


“The pandemic has required us to up our game in terms of ecommerce and relook at our digital offering and what it means for snacking as shopper behaviour shifts. We understand there is going to have to be a different route to market – which will call for innovative solutions that ensure that snacking still happens. This is why we have partnered with retailers on e-commerce solutions that have gone live and allow South Africans to continue snacking seamlessly and conveniently,” says Dennis.