We have all grown up hearing ‘time is precious’. Now it turns out, time is indeed valuable, especially in the mornings when you are late for your office and can’t have breakfast but also, can’t skip breakfast because it’s ‘the most important meal of the day’.
No doubt, India is a constantly nurturing country, with incomparable food from north to south and east to west in every direction and for the longest time, people have preferred home-cooked food in India. However, with the strong wind of urbanization, that preference is changing.
Today, consumers are on a strict schedule and are highly influenced by the uber-cool western culture where everything is fast and easy. People are now looking for options that are quick and easy to make and are healthier than other food items and quick snacks available in the market. This trend has been picked up by Indian food manufacturers. Now, numerous Indian manufacturers are trying to utilize the untapped potential of the food industry to nurture the creation, adjust to quality measures and increase usefulness. Hence, ‘ready-to-eat’ and ‘ready-to-cook’ food was brought to life in India.
The fast-paced lifestyle changes increased focus towards health and wellness, and evolving needs of the consumer have pushed the demand for clean label and plant-based food segments, across the world. In the last few years, we have seen plant-based food taking the market by storm and veganism going mainstream. There are many options available across the market, from bakery and pastries to pizzas and burgers, from plant-based beverages to ready-to-cook food items. The pandemic and the two national lockdowns have made people reassess what they eat and its impact on the planet, they have become very conscious about what goes in their bodies.
The ready-to-eat food that was first introduced in India in the face of instant noodles, soup, frozen vegetables, or frozen snacks has come a long way from its arrival. The industry has kept up with the change in demand and the wide consumer base that it caters to. There is now a whole range of RTE meals customized for the Indian populace, from palak paneer to idli sambar, from burger patties to plant-based meat items like jackfruit, you name it and the Indian food industry will have it in store for you.
This change could be attributed to the fast-moving millennials, the rapid urbanization, or the growth in income, changing middle-class population, and changing taste inclinations of Indian buyers. In addition, there is now a growing demand for ready-to-cook food where there’s no need to spend time chopping vegetables. These are real vegetables, which are healthy; pre-chopped to save your time, and can be easily cooked to suit individual tastes. This evolution in food demand has opened up a whole new arena for Indian food manufacturers. Especially in metro cities, where most working people do not have the time to cook the right food, or are looking for healthy alternatives for fast food. In addition, ready-to-cook food is also easy to order, healthy, and cost-effective. In short, this is a win-win situation for both, the consumers and the manufacturers.
Increasing urbanization has been a huge driving force in India, especially over the last five years in terms of ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook food. Since there’s a wide range of consumers, companies are increasingly focusing on specially prepared foods. Another interesting statistic is that the country’s major retail chains, supermarkets, and convenience stores have easy access to such ready-to-eat foods. There is a variety of ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook foods for everyone, from office-going parents to choosy children. In order to cater to all these sections of Indian society, companies have adopted an increasing item portfolio to include nutrition-based categories to meet the growing demand. Food like soya chunks, vegan meat, paneer, jackfruit is high in nutritional value and can be cooked to desired taste with multiple modifications.
Keeping the increasing consumer demands and the market trends in mind, it’s a huge possibility that not only RTE and RTC food is going to stay in India but also develop immensely. A country where every other person is passionate about their work to the point of being a workaholic, they often don’t have the time or the will to cook time taking dishes or are often too broke to order from outside, RTE food provides a healthy, convenient alternative with a huge variety.
This is a breakthrough in India’s food manufacturing industry and has the potential of being a major contributor to the economy.