Mintel: Thai consumers turn to salty snacks for comfort

The pandemic has elevated Thai consumers’ need for self-care and emotional wellness through snacking. The latest research from Mintel shows that 77% of Thais* are turning to salty snacks** as a way to treat themselves. This number rises further to 81% among those aged 25-34.

Furthermore, pandemic-induced stress and anxiety, coupled with hectic urban lifestyles, are influencing Thais’ snacking occasions. “Distracted snacking” or eating snacks while working, commuting/traveling or doing other leisure activities, is a habit among 76% of consumers.

Pimwadee (Sara) Aguilar, Associate Director, Food & Drink, Mintel Reports Thailand, said: 

“Snacking is a common favourite pastime for Thai consumers to keep them going through the day. Second to Indians, Thais show the highest frequency of substituting a meal with a snack/drink in 2021 compared to other Asia Pacific markets, according to Mintel Global Consumer research.

“Growing consumer interest in the connection between food and mood provides a potential for salty snacks brands to help promote emotional wellbeing in their product messaging and marketing campaigns.”

Many Thai consumers also eat salty snacks during occasions such as ‘we-time’ (54%), including socialising with friends or spending quality time with family, and ‘me-time’ (45%), including when bored or stressed. Between age groups, 59% of Millennials (those aged 25-44) consider themselves to be more of ‘we-time’ snackers, while 58% of Gen Zs (those aged 18-24)  are ‘me-time’ snackers.

Balancing health with indulgence

Despite salty snacks’ appeal for emotional comfort, sodium and additives/preservatives are in friction with consumers’ desire for better-for-you foods. 

Between January 2019 to December 2021, launches of salty snacks with natural ingredients and no additives/preservatives/allergens are more popular (19%), while eco-friendly product propositions are also gaining interest (17%) according to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD).

Consuming salty snacks with third-party accreditations such as the Thai Healthier Choice logo is also preferred by 77% of Thai consumers who have seen and know what it is.

“Apart from a reduction of the perceived unhealthy ingredients in salty snacks (e.g. sodium, additives), Thai consumers are seeking products with additional health benefits that can help them feel less guilty about snacking. Adventurous flavour seekers are also more willing to pay for health benefits. 

“At the same time, fortification proves to be a more well-accepted approach that brands can take to elevate the health value of products. It is clear that strengthening added health benefits and taste innovations that do not compromise on taste will have a role to play to make salty snacks an indulgent yet healthy part of Thai consumers’ diet,” said Pimwadee.

For more information or to schedule an interview with our analyst team, please contact the Mintel Press Office at press@mintel.com.

Notes to the editors

*1,464 Thai internet users aged 18+ who have eaten salty snacks in the 6 months to January 2022

**Includes bean-based snacks, cassava- and other root-based snacks, corn-based snacks, potato snacks, rice snacks, vegetable snacks, wheat- and other grain-based snacks, popcorn, nuts and snack mixes

For more Mintel Thai Consumer Report on the food and drink category, click here.

Newsletter Signup

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter below and never miss the latest news.