Convenience Food – The Future of Kitchen

A 2020 Trend Report

India’s economic growth over the past two decades has been phenomenal. Its GDP grew from $460 billion in 2000 to $3202 billion (estimated) by the end of 2020, recording a 595% growth over the last 20 years, faster than any other large economy in the world. With economic growth came rapid urbanization; number of working mothers and nuclear families increased, cities and towns swelled and houses and kitchens shrunk. Consumers became busy, time became a scarce resource and there was a need for products that enabled consumers to focus on their social and active lives without compromising on food and nutrition.

Convenience food came with the promise of saving time and offering delicious food, right from the confines of their homes. Research shows that a significantly high number of urban Indian households with working parents use convenience food products quite regularly; their spend on convenience foods has doubled over the past decade and is expected to double in the next five years.

In this growth stage, the market has experienced significant consumer shifts in taste and preferences. We at Symega constantly monitor the shift in consumer trends across various market segments and create new products to meet the changing consumer demands. Drawing from this practice, our experts have highlighted three key shifts in the convenience food market.


From convenience to convenience plus

The convenience food market is now shifting towards convenience plus.

1. Convenience + Health

There is a growing awareness about health and nutrition amongst consumers. Consumers are known to check for ingredients, health benefits and simpler ingredients as they now specifically seek out for healthy products. Convenience foods carry the perception of being unhealthy and hence brands which use higher quality ingredients, meet the dietary parameters, and offer healthier variants will be preferred by the consumers. Products which highlight the presence of natural ingredients along with assurances of minimal processing can appeal to consumers looking for a more wholesome ready meal option.

2. Convenience + Quality

Quality goes hand in hand with health consciousness. Convenience food packs have become an integral part of the kitchen and consumers do not want to compromise on quality either. Branded products are generally perceived to be of better quality than the non-branded ones. Consumers have, over the past decade, made a decided shift towards brands from local products.  Branded players in instant mix categories like badaam milk, upma, rava idli, etc. and western breakfast options like oats and muesli are slowly replacing the unorganized players from the retail shelves.

3. Convenience + Variety

Travel, tourism and social media have led to higher awareness about different delicacies, cuisines, and food habits around the world. This has fueled a demand for international flavours and cuisines in convenience foods. At the same time, there is also a rise in demand for regional and local specialties in a convenient format for everyday cooking. Making a wide variety of tastes available, or focusing on a number of offerings within the same culinary tradition, are both equally attractive positions for a brand to establish and grow market share.


If they know it, they buy it

Most players in this category have traditionally focused on the urban middle class consumers. Those in the tier II, tier III cities and towns now ripe for such products, and offer a great potential to expand.  Growth in such markets is led by women empowerment, increased exposure to different foods, and a slow but steady change in lifestyle. Winning factor in these markets would be small SKUs and trial packs which allow the consumers to try new products, while that in the urban market would be health claims and variety.

Also, smart phone penetration, use of digital and social media and growth in online shopping have increased consumer awareness about newer cuisines and flavours. Newfound popularity of gourmet ingredients like Madagascar Vanilla and Demarara Sugar, and sauces like Harissa and Thai curries clearly indicate the consumers’ growing penchant for novel cuisines and ingredients on their plates. Gaining the right visibility on digital platforms, and using the right levers to influence consumers are the mantra for growth, especially for the newer brands in the marketplace.


Categories to watch

Convenience food brands that have hit the right chords

Several new categories were introduced recently in the instant mix market and are already witnessing a strong growth. Among these, snack, curry and breakfast mixes are expected to capture a large market share in India. In the breakfast mix category specifically, traditional dishes have been seeing an increased popularity. According to data research company Nielsen, the breakfast mixes market is growing at 17 percent and is currently pegged at US$ 36.8 million.

Another watch out is the market for spreads, sauces and dips that is now close to US$ 2 billion and growing at 22 percent CAGR. We also expect to see a robust growth in the Ready-to-Drink segment, with lattes, cold brew coffees, traditional drinks and even cold-pressed juices becoming more popular than they have been in previous years.

With restricted movement across the country and most people working from home, consumers have developed a new fondness towards self-cooking. However, with hired domestic help becoming costlier and time constraints of work from home setting in, this practice has lately seen a modified approach with an increased demand for ready-to-cook and frozen-food products.


Lead the market with Symega’s convenience food solutions

Keeping with the apparent and latent trends in consumer preferences, Symega offers a broad portfolio of convenience products to F&B brands:

Instant and Powder Sauces
We have a wide range of powder sauces that can be used to make the base for gravies, or an instant dip for snacks. Also, the powder format is easier to handle, store, carry and use.

Hot and Cold Beverage Premixes
Our hot and cold beverage premixes are easy to use, time saving and a cost effective way to quench thirst. They can be used as an instant beverage or as a base in mocktails. One can pick from the wide variety of flavours, dilute them in milk or water and consume the drink of their choice.

Ready to Meal Kits
Our ready meal kits offer a healthy wholesome meal with minimum effort. This easy, time saving and consistent solution comes in a variety of flavours offering convenience, while leaving control and creativity to moms and dads. It can be cooked quickly and makes for a great accompaniment with rice or noodles.

Ready to Cook Gravy Bases
Making gravy is one of the biggest pain points in cooking. The ready to cook gravy bases eliminate the cumbersome and time consuming process and reduce cooking time. With gravy made easy, consumers can cook their favourite dish easily and quickly.

To know more about Symega’s offerings to the convenience foods range, get in touch with us today.

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