The recent past has witnessed a rapid change in the behavior of people especially in their consumption patterns, not only concerning retail and electronics but also in food habits. In India, there has been an increasing demand for processed food and ready-to-eat meals which have triggered a quick expansion of food ingredients in the market. Recent data suggests that emulsifiers, sweeteners, flavors, food enhancers, and preservatives have seen an increase in consumption and hence the demand.
The changes in consumer behavior increased purchasing power of the average household, and the emergence of e-commerce are prime drivers for the shift to ready-to-eat meals. The rise in the gig economy, part-time jobs for students, and a 24/7 work life has led to diminishing gastronomic skills which are also contributing factors that propelled the consumption of processed food.
With the increasing focus on health and well-being along with rising R&D efforts to incorporate beneficial bacteria in the food and beverage industry, an interesting trend in the food ingredients market of India is the rise of probiotic ingredients. These products prevent the growth of harmful intestinal bacteria, stimulate the secretion of digestive juices and strengthen the immune system. There has also been a rise in probiotic beverages such as Kombucha, Kefir, etc. Along with the emerging preference for healthy food, people are also looking at new ingredients such as pomegranate seeds, chipotle pepper, or cilantro to enhance flavor.
Veganism is a trend that is popular with youngsters these days. This is causing a shift towards plant-based food ingredients. These plant-based food ingredients are considered as some of the most nutrient intense. Ayurvedic food ingredients are another driver of change in the food ingredients market as it provides multiple health benefits to the elderly, while youngsters are drawn towards ayurvedic food due to the nourishing properties that Ayurveda brings to the food and its benefit to the skin and hair in particular.
The advancement in technology and subsequent popularity of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest and the like, is changing the way people communicate and influence their peers. Social media thus plays a key role in the promotion of eateries offering unique cuisines, health-based menus, and outlets retailing new brands of food.
This has led to Indians exploring recipes from across cuisines not only within the country but also abroad, resulting in a steep rise in the demand for food ingredients that are sourced from different parts of the world. Youngsters lead this pack as they are more open to trying new types of food. Their openness to experiment has led to high demand for global exotic cuisines.
Exotic vegetables have now become a common feature in regular meals at home and restaurants. For example, food ingredients such as Seaweed from Japan, Korea, and China, like Dragon Fruit indigenous to the America, Kiwi and Sauerkraut from China, Sourdough bread from Egypt are now trending in India.
An important trend that resulted due to the lockdown because of Covid-19 was a spike in the demand for baking ingredients. With the increase of foreign cafes and bakery chains in India, bakery items are now being consumed in the average household as well, as opposed to being a special delight. With this rise in consumption and added focus on a healthy lifestyle, people opt for baked goods that are guilt and gluten-free. They also look for alternative ingredients such as multigrain and whole-wheat-based products.
The food ingredients market in India is therefore witnessing a revolution in terms of consumer preference and global influence. While innovation and competition are fairly nascent in the organized sector in the country, the current trends suggest that the future of this sector is looking bright.
Yam Bahadur Thapa, Sous Chef, Brigade Hospitality, Bengaluru