Tuesday, May 21, 2019


Imported food demand up in India, prompting farmers to produce locally
Tuesday, 04 December, 2018, 16 : 00 PM [IST]
Our Bureau, New Delhi
India, of later, is witnessing an increasing in the demand for a number of imported food items, and prompting forward-looking farmers to producing some of these products locally.

This is attributable to the fact Indians are travelling all over the world and returning with their palates tickled and tempted by the vibrant flavours and delicious foods on offer throughout the international marketplace.

In addition to the changing food preferences based on what other countries are serving, the evolving food habits, dual-income households, increasing health awareness, more dining-out options, and rising aspirations are all converging to bring a tectonic shift to the Indian plate, especially in urban households.

This exploration of food outside of the traditional repertoire is not only leading to the increase in the demand for imported food items.

In fact, the imported quinoa served on the designer plates of Michelin-starred chefs was, within no time, being grown by innovative Indian farmers in progressive states like Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat.

The health story of millets and amaranth from India has been absorbed and recreated all across the global food and beverage (F&B) arena.

The imported food industry in India, growing at 22-23 per cent, is being closely followed by domesticated international foods having a growth of 14-16 per cent, while traditional products like bhakarwadi, farsan, bhujiya and others are growing between nine and 12 per cent.

At a recent knowledge session, Amit Lohani, director, Forum of Indian Food Importers (FIFI), stated, “Imported food products like breakfast cereals, savoury processed snacks, seasonings, dressings and sauces, ready-to-eat meals, and confectionery products are expected to see a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.2, 33.6, 7.9, 12.4, and 16.6 per cent, respectively, between 2016 and 2020.”

“None of the referenced categories were traditionally consumed in India as recently as 10 years ago, but now they are transforming the kitchens of aspirational Indians, who will eventually start looking for those same products to be produced locally,” he added.

In fact, many international products have created a passage for India’s domestic food industry to benchmark high-value propositions that meet international standards through the Make in India campaign.

For example, iconic Indian brands like Amul are parlaying their understanding of the versatile Indian palate and its savouring of international flavors by using Indian cow milk to create Dutch cheese like Gouda.

Ranked fifth in terms of production, consumption, exports, and expected growth, India’s food processing industry is one of the largest industries in India. The food processing sector in India received foreign direct investment (FDI) worth about $7.54 billion between April 2000 and March 2017, and is estimated to attract as much as $33 billion of investment over the next 10 years.

This investment by international companies like IKEA, Ferrero, Kraft Oreos, Mondolez, Doritos, Kinder Joy and others bring in infrastructural advancements, vertical integration, supply chain management, cold chain and manufacturing.
Domestic food processors are also capitalising on the untapped segment of aspiring Indians who frequent quick service restaurants (QSRs).

While value-conscious, these consumers don’t want to miss out on alluring foods full of international flavours but, are happy with the products manufactured in India by Indian or international brands and offer value for money.

Earlier products like mayonnaise, tartar sauce, sour cream and others were limited to chains like McDonald’s and KFC. But now with domestic production, they have influenced the purchase patterns of Indian households, increasing consumption points.

Viraj Bahl, managing director, Veeba Foods, said, “We, as a society, are changing a lot. Indians are now travelling all over the globe and experiencing different cuisines.”

“At Veeba, we like to keep ourselves abreast with these changing trends and give consumers something their palate would love. I like to read up a lot on the changing food trends. I also thoroughly enjoy going out and experimenting with different foods and ingredients,” he added.

“It is this passion for food that drives our innovation. For instance, our chipotle southwest dressing is made from imported chipotle pepper to deliver to customers the authentic Mexican flavour, and our American mustard sauce is made from imported American mustard seeds, thus giving our audience a genuine American experience,” Bahl said.

Veeba Food, and other trendsetters in India’s food processing industry, will continue to excel as they identify and incorporate international ingredients into Make in India products that please the palates of the country’s cosmopolitan consumers.

However, innovative advancements do not provide a monopolistic advantage for long, so whether a food business is import-focussed or dedicated to domestic production, India’s food industry is capitalising on these discoveries as quickly, as possible, and before others can match them.

Happily, in this kind of international competition, everyone wins - local producers and processors, merchants, and, most of all, consumers.
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