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Global Market Insight
Even with the advent of the pandemic, India continues to be one of the principal hubs for bread and pasta consumption.
Over recent years, and especially since the onset of the global COVID-19 crisis, food & diet trends have been transforming significantly. Proliferating at-home cooking activities and a stronger focus on health are among the major factors triggering this transformation.
With families adapting to the new normal and practicing more social distancing by sheltering at home, the interest in packaged and ready-to-cook products such as pasta and bread has witnessed a dramatic rise. Consumers yearning for quick, healthy, and economical meal options, or restaurant-quality meals, or showing more propensity for experimentation in the kitchen are turning rapidly to products such as high-end pasta and artisanal bread, leading to rapid changes in the retail sector.
Reports from a Grain Foods Foundation survey, conducted among over 1,000 adults in the U.S representing a cross-section of the population suggest that nearly one-third of customers in the U.S consider bread and pasta to be the most comforting foods during stressful situations. The study also highlighted that approximately the same percentage believed pasta and bread to be among the most nutritious options for comfort food.
While these items have been considered staples in many developed parts of the world, the bread and pasta markets in India have begun to gain significant traction fairly recently. Although spices and curries are the main components of traditional Indian meals, regional cuisine trends across India are being reshaped considerably in recent years, favoring packaged food products like pasta and bread, due to their convenience, taste, and nutritive values.
Bread as a staple part of modern IndIan dIets
Bread, like in many other nations worldwide, has rapidly come to be an indispensable part of Indian diets. The consumption of grain bread is gaining ground due to faster lifestyles, with myriad varieties being produced and commercialized in markets and bakeries nationwide. Not surprisingly, India is also gearing up to be an indispensable part of the global frozen bakery market landscape, and is expected to have a healthy share in the business in the years to come.
Studies suggest that nearly the per capita consumption of bread in various zones in the nation spans 1.5kg to 1.75 kg, with the vast range of bread reshaping daily meal trends in India. Aside from the western style loaf bread available in the markets, Indians also consume several ethnic varieties of bread such as naan bread cooked in tandoors, or roti and parathas prepared on cookware such as pans. These main ingredients in these bread types are usually flours derived from wheat, millet, chickpeas, and other legumes.
The same lifestyle trends that have influenced the consumption of bread in India also hold for pasta consumption, with the product gaining rapid popularity over the recent years, especially in younger populations.
According to a recent SEMrush study focused on examining the types of recipes searched for by Indian users between February and March 2020, the most popular non-Indian dish searched for by consumers was pasta, with online recipe searches showing a nearly 50% increase, as compared to the pre-COVID period.
Urbanization has triggered several changes in lifestyles, especially food and diet. Practical eating habits have gained massive popularity among younger and busier generations, with pasta and bread taking the lead as the most convenient meal options.
Pasta consumptIon wItnesses burgeonIng Interest durIng the lockdown phase
According to reports, pasta exports in India increased from $ 2.81 million to nearly $ 22.29 million in the 11-year period stretching from 2003-2004 to 2014-2015. Considering this volume, it was also observed that exports during the same period rose from 3,300 tons to 13,300 tons. The study also highlighted that nearly 71.3% of the pasta exports in India were carried out to Nepal, the United States, the United Kingdom, Bhutan Kingdom, and Canada.
Analysts keeping track of the cuisine, economic trends and cultural behaviors in the country have opined that the bread and pasta markets in India will continue to witness considerable growth in the future. This development will be fueled mainly by the rising popularity of Italian cuisine among urban populations in India, given its robust variety and the burgeoning shift in food consumption trends towards ready-to-cook foods.
For instance, FieldFresh Foods, a seller of premium packaged food and beverage products under the Del Monte brand, saw a substantial increase of over 80%-200% in sales of pasta, sauces, olive oil, as a result of the boom in home cooking activities during the COVID-19-induced lockdown phase. The in-house cooking trend that gripped the nation during the lockdown period also facilitated the two-fold rise and registered volume growth of product ranges such as pasta and olive oil.
Factors affectIng the penetratIon of the bread and pasta markets In IndIa
India is a vast country with a population of over 1.2 billion, accounting for almost 17% of the population worldwide. For this reason, the country is also considered to be among the most lucrative consumer markets across the globe, given the rapid rise in income levels as well as population segments.
Food and grocery constitute the largest share of the spending capacity of the consuming class, thereby opening up lucrative avenues for the growth of bread and pasta industries in India. According to reports from NCAER, consuming classes with annual incomes of $980 or more are growing consistently and are projected to account for over 80% of the overall population in the coming years.
As populations in India, especially younger generations in urban regions, become more literate and attuned to western lifestyles, a significant transition in mindsets and preferences across the nation is likely to be observed. Growing number of nuclear, double-income households, as well as a marked increase in the working women population in urban areas, are influencing several facets of modern lifestyle, most notably food. The surging demand for ready-to-cook products and packaged foods, for instance, has added impetus to the penetration of the bread and pasta markets in India in recent years.
Also, urban populations are showing a higher preference for more westernized meals, such as traditional English breakfasts consisting of eggs, bread, and some form of spread. Aside from breakfast, bread is slowly making its way into nearly every meal in an Indian household, be it as a replacement for roti or paratha, or as an accompaniment for soup and salad dinners.
Modern Indian consumers are also becoming increasingly more health-conscious, especially in the COVID-19 era. This, in turn, has resulted in the emergence of a new trend in packaged foods, from organic or gluten-free pasta to artisanal whole-wheat or multigrain bread. Premium bread is especially popular in health-conscious urban Indian households, as they are said to contain nearly 4-7g of fiber, which is an essential nutrient for digestion.
InItIatIves undertaken by F&B magnates to increase product demand
With the presence of the bread and pasta industries in India becoming stronger by the day, many entities in the food & beverage domain have taken up targeted efforts to address changing food trends in the country, from product innovations such as the introduction of organic, vegan and gluten-free pasta to special high-quality bread products.
ITC’s noodle and pasta brand Sunfeast YiPPee! Is taking strong steps towards increasing awareness regarding its range of versatile, flavourful, and ready-to-cook range of pasts, through a nationwide television campaign, designed to address evolving consumer needs for tasty and wholesome foods.
Meanwhile, in 2020, leading producer of baked goods in India, Bonn Group unveiled its new range of vitamin-enriched healthy bread, dubbed the NU Health Range. This product launch was aimed at promoting healthier eating habits among Indian populations that are vulnerable to lifestyle diseases such as obesity. The new range, including Active Heart, Herb & Seeds, Digestive Balance, and Active Nutrition consists of several wholesome ingredients such as flax seeds, herbs, oat fiber, and whole wheat, among others.