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How is ready-to-cook & ready-to-eat food industry landscape changing?
Tuesday, 28 June, 2022, 12 : 00 PM [IST]
Aditya Bafna
We live in a fast-paced world where every one of us is either late for a meeting or just doesn’t have the energy to prepare a meal. Thus, come ready-to-eat food items for our rescue. According to food and beverages experts, the market size for ready-to-eat food products is expected to grow by $751.43 million by 2026.

The Covid crisis also left an impact on the industry and the food habits of the consumers. Pre-Covid the consumers were hesitant to purchase packaged meals but in a post-crisis world, they have moved their focus to packaged meals that promised sanitation, safe packaging, and convenience, which means pre-packaged goods, such as ready-to-eat foods and frozen foods, became increasingly popular.  

Ready-to-eat food products, aka frozen food, are available in a large variety across the globe. From fruits and vegetables to meat and poultry, the landscape has now further moved on to regional delicacies. Ready-to-eat food varieties are precooked, pre-cleaned, and available in combinations for consumption without earlier planning or cooking.

They are exceptionally liked for the convenience they offer. The ready-to-eat food market is divided based on the product type, supply chain, and location. The product type market is sectioned into instant breakfast/cereals, soups and snacks, prepared dinners, baked food, meat, and other items. The supply chain-based food market is divided into convenience stores, corner shops, online retailers, and other circulation channels.

This change could be ascribed to the ease that millennials seek, rapid urbanisation, or the increasing per capita, evolving working-class populace, especially the rising female labour force participation in the organised sector & gender equality in the kitchen. and changing food tendencies of Indian purchasers.

Moreover, there is presently a developing interest for ready-to-cook/eat food where there's a compelling reason for saving energy. These are fresh vegetables, solid; pre-cut to save your time and can be effectively cooked to suit individual preferences.

This development in eating behaviour has opened an entirely different field for Indian food manufacturers. Particularly in metro cities, where most working individuals lack the time to prepare the food or are searching for sound options for inexpensive food items. Moreover, ready-to-cook/eat food is likewise simple to arrange, clean, and financially savvy.

To put it in perspective, this is a mutually beneficial arrangement for both, the buyers, and the producers. Besides this with the Indian government offering PLI, setting up of Warehouse development authority of India (WADA), and issuing Negotiable warehouse receipts is not just helping farmers but also supporting the food processing industry in general thus giving further impetus for growth.

Expanding urbanisation has been one of the main forces in the growth of Indian sectors, particularly throughout the last five years as far as ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook food industries are concerned. Since there's a wide scope of customers, organizations are progressively zeroing in on uniquely pre-cooked food varieties. Another intriguing measurement is that the nation's significant growth area is a collaboration with international retail chains and the dominance of domestic store chains that offer ready-to-eat food sources to consumers.

There is an assortment of food varieties for everybody, from office-going individuals to students. To take care of this multitude of segments of Indian culture, manufacturers have embraced a rising item portfolio to incorporate nourishment-based food products to fulfil the developing need. Vegetables that can substitute meat like soya, paneer, and jackfruit are not only high in dietary benefit but can be cooked in different formats to suit the rising vegan popularity among millennials.

This wide range includes not only ready to cook regional delicacies but also getting gourmet with chef curated meals as per dietary requirements delivered by companies like Delish in UK or Freshly in US and this trend will soon hit India because market players are focusing on a very limited segment of health-conscious buyers, by offering attributes of keto, paleo, and plant-based diet principles in their menu. The contributions are without gluten, clean, and made with whole food ingredients that are fit to be served and eaten.

Further acceleration will heavily depend on technological advancements as well. We are witnessing technological development by leaps and bounds such as a decreased use of artificial additives for increasing shelf life. For instance, High-pressure power (HPP), or Individual Quick Freezing tech (IQF), even though expensive now will eventually be relatively cheaper with more influx of investment to advance such solutions. Food that is convenient plus fresh and preserved with the least additives will always be a consumer favourite.

Government is additionally taking specific drives to elevate the ready-to-eat food industry. In the recent past, the Indian government promoted the Production Linked Incentive plan to support Indian brands of food items in this category with a budget of Rs 10,900 crore. Qualified players in segments of ready-to-eat/ready-to-cook, grain-based food varieties, marine products, and harvested products will be qualified for the incentives. Government likewise needs Indian organisations to contend in the worldwide market and will guide them through every step of the way.

(The author is founder at Nutridock)
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