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Share of ultra-processed foods in retail sales of processed food to be 39% by 2032: Study
Monday, 25 September, 2023, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Ashwani Maindola, New Delhi
A study into the sale of ultra processed food in India carried out by ICRIER in collaboration with WHO has found that the share of ultra-processed foods in the retail sales of total processed food (essential/staple plus ultra-processed) was 43% in 2011 and 36% in 2021 and it is projected to be 39% by 2032.

Interestingly, the year-on-year (y-o-y) growth rate of ultra-processed food retail sales value saw a sharp decline to 5.50% (2020) from 12.65% (2019) during the Covid-19 pandemic, but after the pandemic there seems to be a sharp ‘V-shaped’ recovery (11.29% growth between 2020 and 2021).

According to the study, the per capita retail sales of ready-made and convenience food are increasing, at a fast pace, even during the pandemic since they take less preparation time, while many other categories like beverages saw a dip as people become health-conscious. The share of this category is expected to increase with new products manufactured under schemes like Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme.

The study suggests that size and growth vary by the five broad categories in ultra-processed foods. In terms of retail sales value, chocolate and sugar confectionery accounted for the maximum market share during 2011-2021, followed by ready-made and convenience food. Beverages was in the third place till 2019, but in 2021 salty snacks came in third.

In terms of retail sales volume, the share of beverages was the highest during 2011-2021, followed by chocolate and sugar confectionery and ready-made and convenience food in the second and third place, respectively.

Salty snacks had a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.78% in retail sales between 2011 and 2021. Its share in the total ultra-processed retail sales value increased from 14% in 2011 to 18% in 2020 to 19% in 2021.

Subcategory-wise analysis shows that sweet biscuits accounted for over 43% of the market share in retail sales value within the category - chocolate and sugar confectionery in 2021. The study remarked that consumers may not be aware of the harmful impact of sweet biscuits. They are cheap, easy to store, have a long shelf-life, and are often consumed as an impulse snack.

Within beverages, the share of soft drinks/ carbonates has declined from 59% in 2011 to 37% in 2021. By retail volumes, in 2021, concentrates/ squashes account for 77% of the market, followed by soft drinks/carbonates at 13% and juices at 9%. Concentrates/squashes also have high free sugar content.
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