Opinion

Now, consumers want ready-to-eat health foods

Shivranjani Gupta | Updated on July 19, 2021

The concept of ‘convenience food’ has been popular in the West for long. Owing to the effect of globalisation perhaps, the food habits of Indians have been changing.

The busy lifestyles of the millennial workforce, spike in gross family income, and the concept of nuclear families gaining ground have contributed to the Indian ready-to-eat (RTE) food segment rising significantly in recent years. The Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing work-life changes have also provided a boost to this segment.

The ‘India Ready-To-Cook Market Outlook, 2021’ indicates that the market for the RTE segment has grown at a CAGR of 15-20 per cent in the last five years. According to Research & Markets, the Indian RTE market stood at $261 million in 2017 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of around 16 per cent during 2018-2023 to touch $647 million by 2023.

A recent survey by Assocham shows that about 79 per cent of Indian households today prefer to have instant food due to time constraints.

Here are some of the reasons why consumers now want a quick bite: working people don’t get enough time to cook proper meals; RTE food is safe for consumption as compared to outside food; RTE frozen fruits and vegetables can be carried to any place; and RTE food is comparatively affordable.

No doubt that the market for ‘convenience food’ has grown immensely, but consumers and health experts have been apprehensive about its health impact.

The surge in demand for healthy foods has spawned an entire segment of packaged food items that include immunity boosting foods, healthy whole grains, seeds and nuts. A number of brands have made conscious efforts to accommodate millets in their offerings. Special attention is also given to gluten-free food items.

Interestingly, innovation is today happening on the packaging front that allows for reduction in use of preservatives in ready-to-eat foods.

The writer is Chief Marketing Officer, Conscious Food

Published on July 19, 2021

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