For the burgeoning working population of India, with their daily chaos, looming deadlines, and constant battle with time, packaged food comes as a savior. According to Statista, the packaged food market in India was valued at over Rs 4 trillion in 2022 and is expected to grow to over Rs 5 trillion by 2026. Now on the one hand, this statistic is alarming because the quality of most packaged food out there is abysmal — nasty ingredients, preservatives, and loads of sugar and sodium. On the other hand, these statistics also expose a massive gap in the market — for quality, home-style packaged food that can give consumers the experience of a warm-home cooked meal without the same investment of time and effort.
Thankfully, in the past few years, we’ve seen a rise in this kind of home-style packaged food. From soup mixes to ready-to-heat and eat curry and rice packets, the market is slowly but steadily shifting. Jaisingh Vaerkar, Managing Partner, The Peninsular Export Company – Makers of SAARRU believes companies are giving Indian consumers a healthier alternative to store-bought soups and a much quicker alternative to anything you’d be able to whip up at home.
The increasing demand
The need for authentic, comforting flavors is a universal sentiment in India where food is not just a necessity but an emotion. This has led to a rise in demand for home-style packaged food, which is hard to come by in a rapidly urbanizing country with more fast food options.
Vaerkar adds, “With busy lifestyles, long working hours, and ever-increasing urbanization, people want the familiar taste and comfort of home-cooked meals without having to spend the time and effort of making it from scratch. This presents an opportunity for brands to create products that meet the demand for native and home style recipe based products.”
Why is it better?
Home-style packaged food stands out in the saturated market of packaged goods for various compelling reasons. “Firstly, it boasts a flavor profile that resonates with the diverse palates of Indian consumers. Another reason is that such food is often made with minimal or no preservatives and fillers. This stands in stark contrast to many mainstream packaged foods, aligning seamlessly with the rising awareness among Indian consumers about the importance of understanding and controlling their dietary intake,” explains Vaerkar.
Moreover, the charm of home-style packaged food extends beyond its nutritional benefits. The taste and aroma of these products evoke cherished memories of meals lovingly prepared by family members, perhaps by a devoted mother or grandmother during their childhood. This nostalgic touch adds an emotional dimension to the consumption of home-style packaged food, transforming it into a sensory journey that goes beyond mere culinary satisfaction.
In the coming years, a substantial portion of the packaged food market is anticipated to be dominated by home-style packaged food due to various factors. The increasing awareness of health and well-being, coupled with the rising fatigue from urbanization and lifestyle changes, is steering consumers toward convenient yet authentic food options. “Rapid urbanization has led to lifestyle fatigue, prompting consumers, even in tier 2 and tier 3 cities to seek alternatives to eating out and ordering home delivery. The appeal of these products is further magnified by the influence of social media and food influencers, which have played a crucial role in fostering awareness and bolstering the popularity of such offerings,” feels Vaerkar.
The market’s potential encompasses a wide range, including savory snacks, alternative beverages, and meals packaged and positioned as lifestyle products that resonate with the aspirations of the Indian consumer. Both established brands and startups have a significant opportunity to capitalize on this emerging trend by introducing innovative offerings within this space.
How brands can bridge this gap
To tap into the burgeoning home-style packaged food market, brands need to focus on authenticity, convenience, and variety. Collaborating with regional chefs and home cooks to create diverse offerings that capture the essence of local cuisines can be a winning strategy. Brands should also invest in transparent labeling, emphasizing the use of natural ingredients to build trust with consumers, who are the real heroes here.
Vaerkar believes, “Consumers stand to gain in multiple ways by embracing home-style packaged food. Firstly, they can enjoy the authentic flavors of home-cooked meals without compromising on convenience. The reduced use of artificial additives and preservatives aligns with health-conscious choices, promoting overall well-being. Additionally, the variety offered within this category allows consumers to explore and savor diverse regional cuisines without leaving their homes.”
It’s clear that this trend is more than just a passing fad. It’s a reflection of our desire for connection, tradition, and the simple joys of a well-cooked meal. And home-style packaged foods sit at the intersection of these three paramount desires. As consumers look for more convenient alternatives, it’s up to the brands to tap into the market and provide the best alternatives out there.
Source : News18