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Collaborate to win: Ireena Vittal

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“As Indian households get richer, percentage share of food in the household budget will drop but the per capita spend on food will double. Hence, expenditure on food will remain the largest,” said Ireena Vittal, Principal, McKinsey & Co. Vittal shared her views at the inaugural session of Food Forum India 2009.

Kick -starting the first session of Food Forum India 2009, Vittal commented on how the story of food starts with the household income in India and it obviously is huge considering that India has 206 million households with a larger chunk in the ‘aspiring segment’.

According to Vittal, food is still at the top of a consumer’s mind in India. “Food shopping behaviour in the country is evolving and it is only in India that people enjoy shopping for food. People are experimenting with different formats for their food shopping. However, the local stores remain the key.”

Vittal pointed out an interesting fact that in India, people shop with an intention of saving money and this is natural as 42 per cent of monthly expenditure is on food shopping. Apart from deals, range available are also a key to attract the shoppers.

Another interesting fact highlighted by Vittal was to do with the craze for ‘foreign’ brands and what is more interesting is the lack of knowledge to actually distinguish a ‘foreign’ brand. She said, “In India anything that sounds ‘English’ is considered as an international brand. In terms of preference, Indians prefer private labels and also like ‘fresh foods’ and the definition of ‘fresh’ is that it can be touched and smelt.”

Vittal’s suggestion to for the food industry players to move ahead was to ‘collaborate to win’.

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