Mumbai: The Indian consumer navigates between taste and health, and the time of day dictates which dominates. While mornings are healthy, evenings are indulgent, according to a National Food Survey (NFS) by IMRB International, the research division of Hindustan Thompson Associates.
“Not all slots in the day are healthy slots, consumers balance taste and health during the course of the day. 3pm to 7pm is a pure indulgence slot,” said the survey.
Sure, the indulgent evenings and the feelings of guilt that accompany it—usually just before bedtime—may well be responsible for the healthy mornings.
“Usually people start their day with eating healthy and intend to stick to eating healthy food but it does not work like that and maximum number of times, it’s the hunger pangs between 5-7pm when people tend to give in to their cravings as the gap between two meals is very long,” said Priya Khanna, a Mumbai-based nutritionist.
The first of its kind syndicated consumption audit is an attempt to understand how urban India eats and drinks. It was conducted across a sample size of 14,300 consumers with smartphones spread across eight cities and 95,000 so-called food and beverage occasions, earlier this year. The data collection was done through an app on the smartphone.
The Indian food and beverage market is estimated to be over Rs2 trillion in size and may nearly double to touch Rs3.80 trillion by 2017, according to a June 2015 report by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI).
Yet, the share of packaged food and beverage penetration is low when compared to other emerging economies. An average Indian consumer consumes a soft drink once a month and Coca-Cola may be twice a year on average, Venkatesh Kini, president, Coca-Cola India had said in a September interview.
Not surprisingly, the survey found that packaged snacks are not all that popular with the affluent. They account for less than 15% of the share of stomach among the Socio Economic Classes (SEC) A, one of the most affluent segments of Indian consumers.
“Packaged snacks will have to contend with codes of freshness to grow beyond the current 15% tummy share,” said the NFS IMRB survey. For instance, in beverages, unpackaged/fresh juice consumption is six times that of packaged juices.
Share of stomach (SoS) is the number of items consumed of a particular category out of total number of items consumed on any given day. In beverages, the equivalent term is Share of Throat.
“Beverage consumption across age groups is a reflection of growing health awareness and consumers seeking nutritional option over sugar laden drinks,” said the NFS survey, pointing to the fact that health-based drinks like packaged buttermilk, lassi and soya milk are consumed more widely than carbonated soft drinks. In January this year, Coca-Cola India Pvt. Ltd launched a flavoured milk offering—VIO in Kesar Treat and Almond Delight variants, marking its entry in the dairy category.
However, the market is one of the faster growing segments within consumer packaged goods industry. “It is growing at 15-17% on an average for the last 5 years,” said Pankaj Gupta, practice head, consumer and retail, Tata Strategic Management group, a management consulting firm.
To be sure, packaged food and beverage companies are expanding their portfolios given the opportunity. PepsiCo India Holdings Pvt. Ltd launched its billion-dollar brand Doritos in India early this year. Even Hector Beverages Pvt. Ltd, makers of Paper Boat, plan to expand its portfolio from beverages into ethnic savory products.
One big opportunity, according to the survey is presented by the young population that eats out a lot, usually with colleagues from the workplace.
Nearly, a fifth of the eating occasions are out of home (OOH) and within that nearly half is accounted for by the working population during early evening. Eating out with friends or colleagues from the workplace “accounts for nearly half or 43% of the out of home consumption,” said the NFS IMRB survey.