Growth of local/regional cuisines in India - Why should we promote and invest in it?
Growth of local/regional cuisines in India - Why should we promote and invest in it?

Globally, the ethnic food market projects to expand from $49.27 billion in 2021 to $98.06 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 10.33%. Post-pandemic, various ethnic cuisines are witnessing a positive growth curve due to increasing market demand. Local and regional cuisines are alluring more customers, especially international migrants who reside and work away from their homelands. Ethnic food production and export in the Asia Pacific market experienced a steady rise during the last few years, with India being a market leader in promoting local delicacies.

As over 17.5 million Indian diasporas live abroad, their demand for consumption of their local cuisines catalyses the growth of the culinary sector in the country. Moreover, food tourism is mushrooming due to social media platforms and food television shows. Television programs hosting world-renowned chefs and peer food blogging on various social media channels intrigue tourists to indulge in local food and customs. 80% of millennials and Gen Z’ers research food and drink options before travelling to new destinations. As a result, local producers, restaurants, wineries, and breweries provide eclectic and authentic culinary experiences with festivals, wine tastings, and other personalised offerings.

Why should we promote the growth of local/regional cuisines?

India owns a diverse culinary culture on account of its various regional delicacies. Traditional recipes from the four corners of the country encompass Idli, Dosa, and Sambhar from the South, Kashmiri Roganjosh and MujiGaad from the North, Kulche, Dhokla, and Dal-Bati from the West, and quintessential Bengali dishes and Odia cuisines like Pakhala, Dalma, Besara, ChungdiMalai, and Gupchup from the East. The cuisines of Odia for instance, which is nestled close to the coast, comprises rich, natural flavours that emanate eternal bliss. Despite having such a diverse range of flavours, the acclaimed Odia cuisine is not so well-known across the country. The acclaimed cuisine is massively influenced by Lord Jagannath Temple's food culture and is known to be India's best kept secret culinary delicacy.Celebrity chefs promote regional signature recipes and bring forward cuisines from various states to represent the authentic tastes of India on the food menu. However, the benefits of encouraging local food growth are not only restricted to satisfying consumer appetite but the upliftment of indigenous delicacies can help sustain the country’s economy in the following ways.

Supporting the native food ecosystem

Local cuisines utilise ingredients such as vegetables, fruits, cereals, herbs, spices, and condiments native to the region. They promote the livelihood of local farmers, suppliers, and stakeholders that keep the agricultural ecosystem of the country rolling. Moreover, restaurants, street food joints, and cafes that patronise regional tastes offer premium-quality authentic local flavours to their customers. Chefs and native cooks who prepare the delicacies nurture deep knowledge about the traditional culinary culture of the state. Investing in local delicacies will keep the rich heritage and age-old recipes alive.

Boosting the local economy through culinary tourism

India’s food tourism market is currently thriving at $19,127 million and expects sales growth at a robust 20.4% CAGR by 2032. Local food is the backbone of the country’s tourism and hospitality industry, where travellers from across the land and abroad explore regional dishes at destinations. Food Walks and Culinary Residencies are evolving as trends that provide customers with a novel experience closer to home. Food research exploration is gaining momentum as the high demand for experiential delicacies propels chefs, industry professionals, and entrepreneurs to refine a food concept.

Increasing employment

The food services industry in India generated over 9.5 million jobs in 2022 despite over two million layoffs during the peak pandemic period. More than 1555 food tech startups operate across the country employing 30-40 lakh executives for doorstep food delivery. 2.3 crore unorganised local dine-in spaces involve cooks, food delivery agents, and outlet managers that mitigate unemployment in rural and remote urban areas. By 2025, the number of employees in the culinary sector projects reaching 10 million, with an average annual salary of INR 1.8-10.2 lakhs per worker.

Representing regional tastes to global gastronomists

Signature local dishes are often packaged and exported to foreign lands to meet their global demands. India’s value-added processed food products earned over $13,261 million from export in the Q2 of 2022-23. The penetration of online food services will likely double by 2025, generating a Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) of $13 billion.

Cloud kitchens that endorse local recipes are the future of India’s restaurant industry. These delivery-only virtual kitchens uphold the country’s food heritage and plate it in the most luxurious ways. They will contribute about $2 billion to India’s culinary sector by 2024, taking native street food to a global platform with a gourmet perspective. Entrepreneurs of 3500+ cloud kitchens celebrate the flavours of their respective states and present their lip-smacking food legacy to premium gastronomists. Leading market players cater to the palates of their customers and research relentlessly to bring out the best in the Indian food heritage on the platter of food lovers.

Final Thoughts

India’s food custom amalgamates innovative food concepts with traditional recipes. Such a diverse culinary culture attracts connoisseurs from remote corners of the country and captivates global audiences. An indomitable urge to explore the native delicacies of a region drives the food services industry with Food Walks, Culinary research, food tourism, and cloud kitchens. Patronising the rich food heritage of India supports local food ecosystems, generates income and employment at the grassroots level, and epitomises the country’s refined tastes in their true senses.

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