The COVID-19 pandemic has reset our priorities, with health and wellness rising above all else. There is a high level of desire among people today to make dietary changes that will aid in improving overall health and immunity. Studies show that this change in consumer behavior is long-lasting and will be a preferred choice in the post-pandemic era as well, giving F&B brands a huge opportunity to expand their portfolio in order to cater to the growing demand.
Studies are continuously evaluating the direct and indirect influence of the pandemic on the growing demand for healthy food offerings. One definite learning is that more and more individuals are focusing on nutrition labels. Brands must call out specific health benefits rather than simply terming products ‘healthy’.
Highlighting below opportunities in the health foods industry that F&B brands can leverage to benefit from the growing potential of the Indian market:
Rapid Growth of the Ready-to-eat (RTE) Segment - Individuals today cite lack of time as one of the biggest challenges to eating healthy. With the onset of the pandemic early last year, individuals were confined to their homes for the most part of the year without much physical activity. Boundaries between work and personal life had blurred, and several individuals found themselves unable to follow a healthy diet – resulting in the rise of the RTE segment. A recent survey highlighted that taste and convenience reign supreme in the decision to buy food however, with the advent of the RTE healthy food products, individuals can now eat nutritious and delicious meals without spending significant time and effort in its preparation.
Conscious Munching - Owing to working from home, we have all developed a habit of munching on snacks while working. Further, traditional consumption patterns have also highlighted the importance of snacking in the Indian market. This past year we have witnessed a major shift in the snacking category as well – from confectionery and namkeen to healthier alternatives such as granola and muesli. Several brands have expanded their portfolios to cater to the conscious munching category – resulting in consumers being spoilt for choice in the healthy food aisle. No matter what their requirement – vegan, glutenfree, keto-friendly, or sugarfree – there is a range of options that will cater to their exact need.
Growing Markets in Tier-II Cities - While various economic factors contributed to a growing consumer base for wellness brands in Tier-II cities in the past, health food brands still restricted themselves to metros and Tier-1 cities when developing distribution strategies for their brands. However, today there is a significant market in Tier-II cities as well showcasing a strong demand for healthier alternatives. This movement towards a health-conscious diet in Tier-II cities has been accelerated by the pandemic, which has once again reiterated the importance of wellness among consumers. With more and more individuals from Tier-II cities now becoming aware of the benefits of a health-conscious diet, they are paying more attention to choosing food alternatives that are nutritious and delicious.
Veganism - Studies have shown that individuals have been forced to relook at their lifestyle during the pandemic to find solace in a healthier, plant-based approach. Brands foresee great potential in the segment, so much so that even traditional confectionery and dessert brands have now launched vegan varieties of their most popular offerings. With a promising business potential and a strong demand, the plant-based diet is all set to carve its space in the bustling Indian food industry.
Both young and established brands have successfully hopped onto the health food wave to receive exponential returns. With the pandemic having changed the country’s outlook on health and wellness, we foresee only an increase in demand for health and health-related food products in the years to come. Hence this is a great opportunity for F&B brands to leverage the growing demand to expand their portfolio and capitalize on India’s aspiration to lead a healthier life.