The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 took us by surprise upsetting the applecart in more ways than one pushing people behind closed doors. Safety and immunity building has become of paramount importance to shield them from the deadly Coronavirus. The new mantra is in-home cooking, a common sight in many households. With people staying indoors (and continue to do so more than ever before with the brutal onset of the second wave) from the young to the old everybody has become self-proclaimed chefs.
This shift has opened up a lot of opportunities for businesses, especially for the consumer packaged goods segment. Brands have been quick to innovate and pivot to meet the demands of the new normal, engage with consumers more than ever before to stay afloat, stay relevant, and sync up with consumer’s evolving demands and preferences.
Since the onset of the pandemic, experimentation in the kitchen has assumed new proportions by trying new recipes and reviving lost cuisines. The spotlight, however, continues to be on safe and healthy food. This new trend has led makers of food products to innovate and equip consumers with the right set of products to help them relish and savor their favorite cuisines. With the fear of viral infection around and the spotlight on safe food products, demand for packaged foods is only going to increase.
With experiments in the kitchen increasingly becoming the order of the day, manufacturers of masalas and spices, for instance, have seized the opportunity with unique and packaged blends – a reflection of the growing trend of going back to the roots for flavorsome and authentic cuisines.
As the second wave of the pandemic continues to ravage the country in full fury with no end in sight for the foreseeable future and extended lockdown, the rise of in-home cooking will continue to greatly affect the food shopping baskets. The needs of Indian consumers will continue to evolve and manufacturers of packaged foods will have to look for innovative ways to evolve alongside consumers.
The pandemic has witnessed a huge uptick in demand for spices and masalas. Since times immemorial, Indian spices and masalas have held the answer to many health-related issues and are much sought after globally too for the immense health benefits they offer. According to a report by the Indian Brand Equity Foundation USD 3.65 billion worth of spices were exported in FY 2020 – a 10 percent Y-O-Y growth. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an unprecedented increase in the use of Indian spices across the world. According to an ASSOCHAM dipstick, exports of spices were up by 34 percent in rupee terms and 23 percent in dollar terms in June 2020.
While Indian spices offer health benefits like immunity boosting, some regional cuisines have immunity-boosting properties. For instance, Chettinad Milagu Kulambu (Chettinad Pepper gravy) is ideally suited to avoid catching a cold because of pepper. Similarly, Nellai Puli Kulambu (Tirunelveli Tamarind gravy) is beneficial because of the presence of tamarind. From boosting immunity to keeping the life and heart safe, tamarind is really beneficial for one’s health. The demand for such regional cuisines has been steadily rising, which has propelled manufacturers of spices and masalas to innovate in this space and introduce products sought by consumers. As in other industries, spice manufacturers are increasingly relying on automated processes to enhance food safety and eliminate human intervention.
If innovation has witnessed a massive uptick in the food segment, brands are also pivoting on the consumer engagement front. Hitherto restricted to merely developing new products, putting them on shop shelves with some advertising, brands are now engaging with consumers in more unique and innovative ways. Consumer packaged goods manufacturers have realized the need to stay closer to consumers, have a pulse on their demands, and create top-of-mind recall for their brand. Businesses are harnessing the power of technology more than ever before not only for innovatively engaging with consumers, but also to promote their brand, their philosophy, and how they are committed to enhancing the customer experience with their customized product offerings. For example, Coimbatore-based Annapoorna Masalas & Spices had conducted a virtual cook-along contest with a virtual and imaginary chef.
In summation, it is clear that consumers are trying out new products. The onus of catering to this new trend lies with brands and how they will make their brand the most preferred brand in the minds of consumers.
This article is written by Vijay Prasad, Executive Director, Annapoorna Masalas & Spices