The food processing industry is one of the largest industries in India and ranks fifth in terms of production, consumption and exports. Though the industry is large in size, it is still at a nascent stage in terms of development of the country’s total agriculture and food produce, only 2 per cent is processed. Value addition of food products is expected to increase to 35 per cent by the end of 2025. Fruit & vegetable processing, which is currently around 2 per cent of total production will increase to 25 per cent by 2025. The food industry is on a high as Indians continue to have a feast. Fuelled by what can be termed as a perfect ingredient for any industry – large disposable incomes – the food sector has been witnessing a marked change in consumption patterns, especially in terms of food.
The changing Indian lifestyle is creating a wide range of opportunities for market players, across industries. Increasing number of women in the workforce, and the resultant time-scarcity, along with the rise in at-home socializing, the preference for nuclear families, or the young professionals living alone; the growing acceptance of western food, and the need for on-the-move freshly-cooked food are some major reasons for such high adoption of frozen/ready-to-eat snacks, or microwaveable meals, ranging from cheese nuggets to mutter paneer. The frozen/convenience food industry, which started by offering basic frozen vegetables and fries, today offers a wide range of products, from fruits & vegetables to frozen meats and ready-to-cook, snacking and full meal options. The segment has recorded a healthy growth, which has been possible due to increasing customer appetite and acceptance, complemented by an increase in selling points, deeper penetration by organized retail players. Increasing incomes are always accompanied by a change in the food basket. The proportionate expenditure on cereals, pulses, edible oil, sugar, salt and spices declines as households climb the expenditure classes in urban India while the opposite happens in the case of milk and milk products, meat, egg and fish, fruits and beverages.
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