KUALA LUMPUR: Snacking behaviour is changing as consumers become more aware of the impact their choices have on their overall wellbeing and balance, as well as the environment.
Findings from a recent survey unveil that Malaysians are making efforts to be more mindful and present while snacking, with 54% actively controlling their portion sizes, and 51% engaging their senses for a more rewarding snacking experience.
On the environmental front, however, recycling is still far from an instinctive habit among Malaysians: only 36% recycle snack packaging rather than dispose of them into rubbish bins, and four out of five feel that less or recycle-ready packaging does not matter.
These are among excerpts from the 2023 Malaysian Snacking Behaviour survey by Mondelēz International, maker of such brands as Cadbury Dairy Milk, Oreo, Chipsmore, Twisties and more. Conducted in April, the survey sheds insight into Malaysians’ snacking behaviours and their attitudes to emerging global trends.
It is also intended to promote “mindful snacking” – eating with intention and attention, and making conscious choices for a more satisfying snacking experience.
“Snacking mindfully is not about choosing between eating healthy or restricting ourselves from snacking,” a Mondelēz representative points out. “It guides us to be more attuned to what and why we snack and how it makes us feel – from determining our needs in the moment, to learning to slow down by portioning our snacks, reducing distractions, and using all our senses.”
The study found that Malaysians have a tendency for “multitask snacking”, with top snacking moments occurring while watching TV or surfing the internet (75%), and studying or working (44%).
In addition, snacking remains a source of comfort for Malaysians as a majority of respondents (63%) turn to snacks to destress or unwind, while 61% snack to satisfy cravings.
Dr Satvinder Kaur from UCSI University cautions that multitasking and distraction are some of the common factors preventing people from eating right.
“Snacking helps our body maintain adequate nutrition as we go about our busy routine, especially for people with a poor or small appetite,” she said. “However, it should not be a thoughtless activity as eating while distracted can disconnect you from your internal hunger and satiety cues.
“Focus on your food to avoid overeating, and apply methods such as balance, moderation and variety to obtain all the nutrients required by the body.”
Eating and the environment
While packaging remains an essential tool to keep consumers informed, there is a growing need to rethink its impact on environmental sustainability. The survey also sheds light on the attitudes of Malaysians towards sustainable snacking, which includes their recycling habits and actions where consumption is concerned.
Malaysians are not recycling snack packaging at high rates, the study said, adding that they are also hesitant to bear the costs of environmental sustainability efforts: only 31% are willing to pay a small carbon tax on snacks to offset the environmental impact of making them.
This finding contrasts sharply with the global trend of 61% of consumers who are willing to make the commitment.
On a more encouraging note, 41% of respondents do not mind paying extra for snacks produced by companies that adhere to ethical and sustainable practices.
For more information on mindful snacking, click here.