Source: The Economic Times, Sept 05, 2016
Mumbai: Indians are slowly moving away from parathas and cookies to a wider assortment of cereals, oats and milk food drinks as fortified foods with incremental nutrients gain favour with consumers who are willing to spend more on healthy foods. The overall health and wellness food products segment crossed Rs 10,000 crore sales mark in 2015, less than 10% of the overall food market, according to a latest report by Nielsen. Yet, marketers are upbeat.
“The packaged food market in India is relatively nascent and per capita consumption even for aerated drinks or chocolates is minuscule compared to developed world that has been consuming branded food products since over many decades now,” said Devendra Chawla, president, FMCG and brands, at Future Group.
“With most urban consumers, especially millennials, opting for such products now, the country will see a hockey stick curve in the overall category growth, especially for healthier variants as young consumers are more concerned about diet and lifestyle than their previous generation.”
Milk food beverages contributed nearly half of the health products category with sales of Rs5,180 crore followed by healthy oils and multigrain atta at Rs1,250 crore and Rs1,205 crore each.
A granular view of the geographies shows that south India is the earliest to adopt the trend accounting for 36% share for such products followed by eastern India. Surprisingly, Indian shoppers mostly turn to traditional trade stores for their provisions, with health and wellness foods being no exception except instant noodles and cereals that buck the trend with healthy sales in modern trade outlets.
“Cultural factors and eating habits make Indians prone to weight issues, and with consumers now judging themselves on international body-image parameters, the general consensus is that a concerted effort on health and wellness is imperative,” said Manoj Kulkarni, director at Nielsen India.
The research firm said it is a promising segment for manufacturers to tap into with companies charging anywhere between 22% to 82% premium for healthier variants as consumers looking for labels like ‘all natural’ and ‘high in fiber’ are willing to pay more for products that make the cut. The Indian foods market have seen plenty of failed product launches in the health food in the past decade — from Marico’s Saffola Zest baked snacks to Parle’s Monaco smart chips and PepsiCo’s Aliva baked. But that hasn’t perturbed companies.
“There is an increasing trend for genuine products that has backing of health benefits,” said Aditya Bagri, director at Baggry’s that sells muesli and oats. “Making such products palatable is critical so that it is consumed regularly.”
According to Nielsen, the Indian male leans towards fortification and nutrients but women who seek organic and natural foods stress more on making dietary choices and are willing to forego taste in the bargain.