Home Food Indian snacks get a baked makeover

Indian snacks get a baked makeover


The growing popularity of bakery is leading to a manifold increase in the demand for raw material traders, equipment makers, food courts in malls, franchise chains models, among others. The development of global tourism and hospitality industries has spurred this demand further.

Anew age has dawned upon us. The emergence of digitalization, demonetization and democratization has brought us to a world that is starkly different from the one that existed a few decades ago. In this new world, consumers are more aware and knowledgeable. They are intelligent, they judge and form opinions quickly, and are not shy of declaring their love or angst in person, socially, to a friend or family, both offline and online! The average Indian today is more aware; he knows more about what should be in his/ her diet and knows his/ her proteins from the carbohydrates. They have a desire to eat healthy and to ensure that their family eats healthy too. Words such as ‘Bake’ ‘Baked’ ‘Bakery’ are not new words in their dictionary.

How India has changed in the last 30 years has truly been remarkable. The population has exploded and so has the economy, income, food prices, individual preferences and beliefs. Interestingly, most surveys identify the bakery segment as one of the biggest gainers to benefit from this change in lifestyle. Bakery is touted to be the fastest growing food segment, expanding at a rate of 20-25% annually. Industry players put the size of the market at almost INR 1,000 crore in the organized HoReCa (hotels/ restaurants /catering) segment and the size of the premium cookies market is projected to be approx. 1 billion USD now. A large share of the growth also comes from the unorganized home-bakers who are using the flexibility of their business model to monetize their hobby. There are many reasons contributing to the increasing popularity of bakery products and the bakery industry in India. The more important ones are given below.

After all, it’s Baked, not Fried

Even the most quintessential Indian snacks are getting a ‘Baked’ makeover. Be it the ubiquitous samosa or ghujia or mathi, they all have had their ‘much-much anticipated’ baked makeover in a bid to reconnect with the modern consumer mindset. The new generation realizes the difference between baked and fried. And it’s not just the young, the middle-aged or even the old; everyone is looking to get fitter, lead healthier lives and indulge too, but responsibly. More and more people are turning vegetarian nowadays; going vegan is trending, and the number of people demanding eggless and gluten-free products is on the rise.

The best example of the progressive consumer mindset is the nation’s march towards awakening to the benefits of superfoods such as quinoa, ragi, multigrain and many more. Consumers want their old favorites to be healthier. They not only want their classic product but also want their classic with a twist too. The consumers of today know that their fast-tracked lifestyles lack proper nutrition and thus there is an increase in the demand for fortified products. Even breads, biscuits, and other baked products now come packed with proteins and vitamins to increase their nutritional quality. More than ever, manufacturers/ marketers have to be on their toes, keep in step with the trends, innovate aggressively and give the consumers what they demand!

The Proof of the Pudding is in the Pie!

The baking industry seems to have found the perfect balance between a variety of health beneficial products and a range of tempting delicacies to satisfy the classic craving indulgences. Food has gone beyond the common man’s necessity to survive. Much like other products such as cars, shoes, clothes, food now has the added responsibility of creating a few moments to savor for its consumers. The feeling and the aftertaste that food has to offer is eventually the difference between an ordinary and extraordinary experience. The modern day consumer is looking for new products, better appeal, taste and convenience from bakery foods. The largest segment comprises the middle-income consumers who demand varieties in food, improved living standards and want to eat out regularly in order to discover the experience of fi nding something new, something different, something fancy in a restaurant and novel bakery products. Food has to be upmarket, impressionable, aspirational and, above all, be delicious-able!

Not just a Cafe’ but a ‘Café Bakery’

With a generation growing up on 4G, Google and Netflix, today’s consumers have a new list of demands. Indian consumers are demanding for more places to go out to. This has given rise to the Café Bakery – A cafe with an allday- tag. Earlier, a café was restricted in its food offerings but in its new avatar, whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner, tea-time, break-time or let’sjust- relax time, all roads lead to a bakery café. As the world is waking up to the great Indian retail market, every brand, retailer channel and product under the sun is trying to connect with the right audience. The result is a consumer set well-versed with products and food concepts from around the world and spoilt for choice with competitive pricing and lucrative offers. And there’s plenty out there to choose from! From tight pockets to deep pockets, there’s variety for everyone. This sort of variety can be seen in a typical Café Bakery menu with tit bits of Indian, Italian, Mexican, Continental, Fast Food, Salads and Appetizers to a buffet of beverages from classical cappuccino to modern Oreo shakes to tea, fresh juices, power drinks and health drinks (and the list goes on). The mainstay, though, has always been the classical international nibbles variety of croissants, patties, puffs, muffi ns, tarts, sandwiches, rolls and others.

The icing on the cake is the sweets’ indulgence options. From theme-based cakes to day-to-day cakes, pastries, cheesecakes, mousse, chocolates, frozen desserts and much more! With so much of these mouthwatering food options, add a dash of great ambience, bits of fresh ideas and energy and you have the perfect place to relax, chill, unwind and spend quality time with your loved ones.

Plan A for B City

The small towns are ready for a big change and it’s a winwin for everyone. Widespread general awareness, digital and mobile connectivity, education, professionalism and other such significant advancements have helped small towns slowly but steadily make their way up. Needless to say that Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kochi, Chennai, Hyderabad are still the biggest markets but the smaller cities is where the real growth potential lies. Surveys over the years tell us that smaller towns are aspiring for more. Today, the sales growth of cheese, bathing gel, air fresheners is on the rise more in the smaller towns. The truth of the matter is that smaller towns want to shop like the metros and marketers are taking notice! The last three yearsdepict an interesting picture for the Indian FMCG market. We fi nd that middle-class India leads the pack in value growth. Even smaller towns are not too far behind with almost equal growth in sales. This is testimony to the rising of small towns of India, the opportunities they hold and how, over time, they could become the epicenter for the Indian economy. The demand is doubling every passing year, thanks to the young mall-going crowd, English sitcom watching students and, generally, consumers demanding more choices. Baked products are the most natural fi t in such an environment. A place that offers new products with attributes such as health, baked, and healthier choices will be a winner surely!

Everyone can bake and the pie is growing fast

Today, we have mothers baking everyday for personal needs to fathers making Sunday special muffins. We have local bakeries ruling the roost and catering to the masses to your neighbor’s daughter opening her own plush patisserie to your friends going to the acclaimed Le Cordon Blue in Paris to study. It’s all happening now and baking is serious business. And fun too! The new generation is very comfortable with international cuisines and flavors and patronizes established brands as much as home-grown brands and independent home bakers.

With the rise of baking courses and colleges, Indian students studying all over the globe, easy access to home-baking equipment and technology thanks to the Flipkarts, Amazons and the OLXs, baked products in India are becoming an increasingly popular preference when it comes to eating, gifting and even a hobby. The industry is also thriving on the customization bug. From the big multinationals to people baking from the confines of their homes, they are all baking not just cakes but cupcakes, cookies, croissants, macaroons and so much more; all customized to meet the client’s needs and demands. The festive season (mainly from October to March) is the busiest for the industry; there is also a host of festivals, weddings and corporate events that are all becoming bakery-products’ occasions. Round the year birthdays, anniversaries, bachelor parties, fun parties, office parties and the trend of Indians celebrating special/ big moments of life is also fuelling the bakery demand throughout the year. And in the end, it’s a sweet story for everyone from International brands to national bakeries and even the home-baker. There’s a share of the pie for everyone!

The Ripple Effect

As they famously say, two plus two is five! The growing bakery industry today offers immense opportunities for bakers, decorators, teachers, managers, distributors, retailers and many such professions. It also needs manpower, specialised and non-specialised, young and old,experienced and novice. The bakery popularity has led to a manifold increase in the demand for products in allied industries across the board such as for raw material traders, equipment makers, food courts in malls, franchise chains models, etc.

The development of global tourism and hospitality industries has spurred the demand further. Today, trained professionals are getting high-paying jobs in India as well as abroad. India’s export of bakery products has also risen, which is helping in the economic growth of the country. Increased demand has also helped the primary sector of the country, i.e., agriculture. Almost all bakery products are made from wheat and dairy products. Farming has become now more commercial. Farmers grow the produce and sell at competitive prices in the national as well as international markets, bringing prosperity. Prosperity brings along better technology, equipment and infrastructure which, in turn, not only helps the baking industry but benefits the nation as a whole.

A billion plus audience

A billion plus population definitely brings along its fair share of problems and inconveniences. But it also bring along the power of being together and the power of connecting with one another. India is the second-largest producer of food in the world and soon could be the biggest food and agricultural sector in the world. The Indian bakery segment is one of the biggest in the country’s processed food industry.

Bakery products, which include bread and biscuits also, have a large demand to fulfill with an audience eager to buy, try and give a chance to the new entrants. Europe was the dominant bakery products’ market owing to the evolving taste palates, incorporation of healthy ingredients, innovative new flavors, and increase in consumption frequency. But that was in the past with Asia now anticipated to be the fastest growing market over the next decade owing to the presence of the main participants – China, India, Singapore and Japan.

India, specially, will provide the biggest opportunities with its large population size. Bakery products are often priced competitively, which allures consumers to try, incepting a small change in eating habits all along. Now, with newer technology, skilled manpower, new packaging ideas, e-commerce boom and retail success stories, it’s only to be expected that in time bread, rolls, cakes, pastries, pies, cookies, crackers and more of such products will become part of the daily national diet.

In the End

Moving ahead, the sector will see a fair share of ‘made in India’ brands that will offer immense competition to the International favorites.

The market for home bakers too will grow enough to make their presence felt. Bakery products, outlets, interactive spaces will become more accessible for the common man. The year-on-year growth and the big figures are indeed encouraging but there is a flip side too. As the business and the industry grows, the challenges accruing out of it will also grow at a faster pace. Admittedly, the Indian bakery industry is not 100% geared up – be it infrastructure, manpower management or affordable technology – but it is definitely taking the right steps to get there.

Like many industries, retail bakeries will see rising costs in fuel, health care and other expenditures, which will cut into their bottomline and increase the costs of doing business. However, there has been an uptick in the demand of categories such as value-added eggless and gluten-free baked goods. Driven by the evolving perception of bakery products in India and the changing consumer preferences, I see exciting times ahead for Indian bakeries.