As of 2009, the Indian RTE foods market was estimated to be around $33.5 million, registering a CAGR of approximately 15 percent over the last five years. But with the increasing involvement of women in labour force, the rising number of nuclear families and a desire to maximise ‘me’ time, the size of the Indian RTE foods market is poised to double by 2014.
Does the idea of cooking an elaborate meal after a long working day bother you? Do you fancy experimenting with delicacies native to various parts of India at home? Do you wish to match up to your mother-inlaw`s legendary culinary skills? Does the idea of having unexpected guests give you nightmares? If yes, then a ready-to-eat (RTE) food pack might just be what you are looking for.
In the fast-paced lifestyle of the present-day world, old habits are dying fast and food habits cannot remain untouched by it. So, `home-cooked` mutter paneer and dal tadka, which most Indians have savoured for long, are fast giving way to the `ready-to-eat` version, picked up from a retail store!
For a generation of Indians who are increasingly pressed for time, the growing availability of a variety of RTE foods across India is increasingly appealing to the changing ‘taste, health and convenience’ equation of the consumers.
As of 2009, the Indian RTE foods market was estimated to be around $33.5 million, registering a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 15 percent over the last five years. At present, RTE foods with normal shelving – canned RTE foods that require no refrigeration – alone form approximately 60 percent of the total market. For a product, which predominantly depended on export markets to strike a chord with the rising
popularity of Indian cuisines and the burgeoning Indian diaspora across the globe, the recent rise in demand in the local market is substantial. Women as Growth Drivers
One factor that is predominantly driving the growth of convenience foods, such as RTE, in India is the massive transformation in the role of women in an urban Indian family. With more educational opportunities compared to their predecessors, the current generation of Indian women has higher professional aspirations and as a result has much lesser time to involve in regular household chores such as cooking.
On the flip-side, though, this has altered the long-standing linkage between Indian women and their Amid several meal alternatives, by virtue of the mix of taste, health and convenience that RTE foods offer, it competes closely with take-away and simple home-cooked meals, among others such as instant foods, elaborate home-cooked meals and dine-in meals.Bottlenecks
The main barrier in consumers choosing RTE over meal alternatives, such as take-away or a simple homecooked meal, lies in the consumer’s skepticism regarding the freshness of RTE foods.
The desire to eat fresh is so prominent among Indians that it even overshadows the desire to seek variety and authenticity. This was corroborated by the findings of the Datamonitor survey, where consumers across all age groups said they valued ‘freshness’ claims more than ‘authentic/home-made/original’ or even ‘no artificial additives’ claims. In fact, keeping this factor in mind, most RTE manufacturers have aggressively promoted claims such as ‘100 percent natural’ and ‘free from preservatives’ on the product packaging, but no one has attempted to break the unhealthy perception by highlighting the fact that the retort packaging used in RTE foods can help in retaining the nutritive value and freshness, thereby increasing the shelf life. Unfortunately, though, the tremendous growth potential that RTE foods can offer is, to a great extent, dampened by the Indian consumer’s concerns regarding the freshness of these products. Going forward, manufacturers should focus culinary skills! With the increasing involvement of women in India’s labour force, the rising number of nuclear families and a desire to maximise `me` time, the size of the Indian RTE foods market is poised to double by 2014.For complete story grab a copy of this months Progressive Grocer-India.