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Market Intelligence, Innovation, Self-Disruption and Localisation: Major trends in India’s food retail sector

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At India’s largest food retail intelligence event, India Food Forum 2020, industry leaders from food retail and market research shared sharp insights on the Indian industry and presented ideas to drive its growth. India Food Forum 2020 began today at the Renaissance Hotel, Mumbai.
In the opening session – Indian Food & Grocery Markets: Trends and Opportunities – Saloni Nangia, President, Technopak, identified five top trends that will shape the Indian Packaged Food Space.
According to her, the first trend is the presence of smaller disruptive players that are making sure that success is beyond few food majors. The second trend is that the brands which focus on regions or clusters will achieve success and scale. The third important trend is that companies are now wanting to be present in multiple product categories. Fourthly, gourmet and health are new niches that will see higher growth and lastly, she observed that interest from investors like PE and Venture Funds and government would provide the growth impetus, given the fact that more than 10,000 crore rupees have already been invested in Packed Food and F&G E-commerce since 2015.
In his address, Kishore Kumar, Head- Brand Intelligence and bb accelerate, Big Basket, showcased the trends in consumer behaviour observed at the India’s largest online food and grocery store. According to him, the key trends included what he called “Grandma is Right”, which is the growth in A2, desi cow ghee and Ayurvedic products. He also felt that the consumers were veering more towards what was better for them and not just a value add. Exposure to DIG/ cuisines/ eating occasions have given rise to food-on-the-go and RTE meals.
Raising the consciousness of healthy lifestyle, increased activity and fitness eco-system has led to a growth in protein foods, healthy food and vitamins and minerals. There is a growing preference for Indian brands for food and personal care products. More and more consumers are demanding both taste and health in their food item. Another trend is the drop in the consumption of sugar in favour of healthier alternatives like honey, jaggery, etc.
Talking about the ‘snackification’ of food, Pradeep Srinivasan, Senior Analyst, Euromonitor, highlighted the fact that time-pressed lifestyles and on-demand economy have led to people looking increasingly at convenience. More and more people are opting for foods with less preparation time and more convenience, thereby increasing the opportunity for pre-prepared foods. Fluid eating habits is another opportunity for snack manufacturers. While snacking has increased, there is a visible difference in treating and snacking. This has led to the demand for healthier snacks. He believes that the pack size of pre-packed snack is also reducing. The growth in this segment will be driven by cross merchandising through new food delivery models.
The second session included Devendra Chawla, CEO & MD, Spencer’s Retail, Sadashiv Nayak, Business Head- Big Bazaar, Future Retail and Arvind Varchaswi, Managing Director, Sri Sri Tatva.
Devendra Chawla, explained how India will consume food in the days to come. He highlighted the fact that India has the largest population in the with an average age of 29 years. This young population will demand newer ways to market to them.
According to him, no longer will one size fits all strategy work. Companies will have to use AI based to reach out to targets. Each of these targets demand personalized marketing messages. He also feels that buying behavior is no longer influenced by peer pressure but Peer wisdom. This is to be supported by webrooming and showrooming.
He opined that brands need to enable a high level of personalization and technologies like block chain will help in the traceability of products.
Sadashiv Nayak, spoke about the relevance of supplementing the digital presence with physical space. He believes the companies which use this strategy will take the lead.
Arvind Varchaswi, expounded the importance of Art of living in Retail. In this presentation he said that the retail will grow more on the back of demand for organic food. E-commerce growth has been instrumental in reaching out of tier II and III consumers for organic food. This coupled with the increased spending capacity of consumers augers well for the category.
This was followed by an eminently entertaining panel discussion, Serving the Fast Changing Consume Market of the World, which was moderated by B S Nagesh, Founder Trrain.
The panelists included Anurag Katriar, ED and CEO, deGustibus Hospitality & President, NRAI, Arvind Varchaswi, Devendra Chawla, Sadashiv Nayak and Sharang Pant, Market Leader- Retail Vertical, Nielsen South Asia.
There are 200+ presenters, panellists and speakers at this mega annual congregation, representing leading food and FMCG brands, retailers, foodservice giants, technology companies and global market research leaders.
Commenting on the key highlights and objectives of India Food Forum 2020, Amitabh Taneja, Chief Convenor, India Food Forum, said, “The Indian food consumption market — including food retail and foodservice sectors — is valued at US$ 900 billion. It is a tremendous opportunity, but also a very challenging time for operators as consumer behaviour and technology are seriously disrupting traditional models. The deep intelligence and wide-ranging innovations showcased here are aimed at driving businesses towards higher growth and profitability despite the challenges.”
The forum’s speakers list includes retail and foodservice business giants such as Sadashiv Nayak, Business Head – Big Bazaar, Future Group; Arvind Varchaswi, CEO, Sri Sri Tattva; Devendra Chawla, Managing Director & CEO, Spencer’s Retail Limited; Sunil Sanklecha, Founder & Managing Partner, Nuts n Spices; Kirit J Maganlal, Founder and CEO, MAGSONS GROUP, Goa; Saurabh Makhija, Head Modern Trade, Nestle; Seshu Kumar, National Head, Buying & Merchandising, Big Basket; Anurag Katriar, ED & CEO, deGustibus Hospitality (President, NRAI); B S Nagesh, Founder, TRRAIN; Benu Sehgal, CEO, Freeport Retail; Sharang Pant, Market Leader- Retail Vertical, Nielsen South Asia; Damodar Mall, Author, Supermarketwala & CEO- Grocery Retail (Reliance Retail); Dheeraj Arora, Head — Modern Trade & Ecommerce, Unilever; Pradeep Srinivasa, Senior Analyst, Euromonitor International, to name a few.
Day 1 focussed on the food and grocery retail industry with master classes and sessions for FMCG, Food & Beverage Brands, Retailers, investors, start-ups and support organisations and end with the Coca-Cola Golden Spoon Awards 2020 powered by Bikaji, recognising excellence in food retailing.

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