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Six consumption trends that will change the “future of food” in India

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Six trends that are redefining your menu

Food has always been an integral part of our culture. We have a cuisine that is deeply rooted in tradition, lifestyle, religion, climate, and agricultural conditions. Today, half of the world’s habitable land is used for agricultural produce and significantly contributes to global emissions. The recent pandemic, poor weather conditions, and other related reasons have pushed up food prices across countries. Soon, our food system will not only face pressure from climate change but also from rising population and their changing preferences.

According to Anand Ramanathan, Partner, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India LLP (Deloitte India), “India is at the cusp of a new food revolution. Health-conscious, evolved consumers prefer to have something on their plates that will have a lower environmental footprint.

In addition, they have also become more conscious than ever for the ecosystem, apart from their own health. A food tradition that focusses on sustainable alternatives is setting the path for the future of food in India.”

  1. Mindful diet: Indian customer’s dietary trends and consumption patterns have evolved over the years. Grains that accounted for 63 percent of daily calorie consumption in 1961, has dipped to 55 percent in 2017. Consumers are increasing their consumption of proteins (from 55.3 gm in 2000-02 to 63 gm in 2015-17), fruits and vegetables, and superfoods such as green tea and olive oil.
  2. Mindful wellness: Increased focus on leading a healthy lifestyle and preventive health care has led to increased adoption of healthy foods and nutritional supplements such as nutraceuticals. Nutri-cereals such as millets are starting to substitute staples such as rice and wheat. There is a keen focus on food fortification to enhance nutritional value.
  3. Mindful sourcing: Today’s informed consumers are concerned about the safety of the food they consume and how it is produced, packed, processed, and delivered. This has led to higher consumption of organic food, which is expected to grow at a CAGR of 21 percent to reach INR 182 billion by 2026 from INR 60 billion currently. Customer preference for food traceability has led to companies introducing such solutions. Clean labels are an emerging trend, although currently it is quite nascent.
  4. Mindful preferences: Customer preference is for food items that appeal to their local tastes. This has led to the emergence of strong regional brands. Even within a state, customer preference can vary across regions, and brands need to be cognisant when they plan their product mix. National brands are also trying to focus on providing variants suited to regional cuisine preferences.
  5. Mindful purchase: There is an increase in customers purchasing packaged staples rather than loose and unpacked supplies. This trend was accelerated with the onset of COVID-19, where customers became mindful of the safety of their food. Additionally, private-label brands of leading retailers are also witnessing increased traction with customers preferring to buy packaged food at an affordable price.
  6. Mindful convenience: There is steady growth in the ready-to-eat and frozen food categories. Food delivery, be it online grocery or prepared food, is growing significantly (28 percent CAGR for online food delivery for 2020-25, 53 percent CAGR for online grocery for 2020-25) with multiple established companies and start-ups operating in this sector.
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