To meet the changing needs of consumers, the ready-to-eat food industry is coming forward with numerous nutritious and on-the-go products
By Kishan Modi
Ready-to-eat products have for long been a part of the food segment in India. However, in the past 3 years, the industry has undergone a paradigm shift. New-age regional brands have fundamentally changed this space with their out-of-the-box thinking and by offering healthy scrumptious products. According to a report by Technavio, the ready-to-eat (RTE) food market share in India is expected to increase by USD 751.43 million from 2021 to 2026, and the market’s growth momentum will accelerate at a CAGR of 18.63%.
Convenience – The Driving Force
The covid-19 pandemic pushed the world towards adaptability and ready-to-eat brands have tailored they products to meet the changing needs of consumers. Today, millennials and zoomers especially do not have the time and patience to always prepare a complete home-cooked meal. This has enabled the ready-to-eat foods industry to surge to new heights with offerings that fulfil the requirements of the young generation.
Until a few years ago, the most people knew of ready-
to-eat foods were instant noodles and dehydrated packed meals that required just boiling water. But things have changed now. Life in India’s mega cities and now even in smaller ones is always on the go and it just makes sense that food too is available on the go. Indian RTE companies have catered to this requirement by coming forward with numerous nutritious products that are easy to eat but at the same time do not compromise on quality and safety. RTE companies have gone to the extent of ensuring that staple diet items of Indian meals are made ready to heat and eat.
The RTE foods industry has made available something to cater to every palate. From wholesome Indian meals to tasty and healthy snacks on the go to various types of fast food such as momos, the RTE industry has a plethora of products to offer. The RTE products have a good shelf life as well and keeping in mind the health concerns of consumers, they do not contain excessive use of preservatives.
Going Local Over Global
The Indian ready-to-eat foods industry is far more dynamic than the western version of frozen microwavable dinners. Indian RTE brands offer a vast variety of innovative food options that satisfy consumers’ cravings for different cuisines. Be it momos and cheesy nuggets or Indian delicacies such as upma and dal-rice or Indian sweets, this segment is witnessing more locally-made brands. producing a whole new gamut of RTE meals customised for the Indian taste.
Furthermore, the nutritional value of local RTE foods is far better than imported alternatives. Post the pandemic, there has been a tremendous shift in consumers’ demands for healthier food options. Today, healthier food products are flying off the shelves and the same growth and demand can be seen in the RTE segment. Consumers have become more health conscious and are opting for products with fewer or no artificial ingredients. Even the price point has not affected the demand for healthy RTE foods.
People want food that they can easily prepare and eat butat the same time are clean and good for them. Local brandsare far better positioned to produce healthier packaged food.
New Age Packaging Demands
Along with changes in the food preparation of RTE products, it is inevitable that the packaging also has to undergo a change. As families go nuclear and a number of people opt to live alone, always buying a big box of Indian sweets or a whole half kg packet becomes tiresome. RTE companies like ours have introduced single-serve containers to make life easier. This makes it more convenient for the consumer to store and consume on the go and curbs excessive food wastage.
Furthermore, post the pandemic, hygiene and safety standards have become a big part of our lives. Consumers now demand well-packaged or canned hygienic food products; no more do they want to buy locally available foods sold loose as it compromises safety as well as health. RTE food companies have gone the extra mile to ensure that hygiene is never compromised and products are well packaged.
The writer is Managing Director, Jayshri Gayatri Food Products, a leading B2B dairy manufacturer & supplier to the Indian domestic market besides exporting its dairy products to over 20 countries globally.