Less reg­u­la­tory bag­gage for im­porters now

Pro­gres­sive Gro­cer In­dia spoke to two lead­ing im­porters to find out the in­dus­try sen­ti­ment on im­port reg­u­la­tions and how im­porters are en­gag­ing with FSSAI to ad­dress pend­ing is­sues.

Progressive Grocer (India) - - Category Watch Gourmet & International Foods -

Over the past few years, FSSAI has moved to­ward en­gag­ing with the trade more vig­or­ously and the re­sults have been pos­i­tive. — Rakesh Banga Founder Part­ner, Farm­land Premium Foods LLP and Founder Direc­tor, Fo­rum of In­dian Food Im­porters

Both the im­porters as well as FSSAI have de­vel­oped a mu­tual un­der­stand­ing for en­sur­ing food safety com­pli­ance. — Rishabh As­rani Direc­tor Sri Roda Foods

A cou­ple of years ago, there was a lot of reg­u­la­tory heat on im­porters on the is­sue of food safety. What is the sit­u­a­tion now?

Rakesh Banga, Founder Part­ner, Farm­land Premium Foods LLP and Founder Direc­tor, Fo­rum of In­dian Food Im­porters: Laws in ev­ery society evolve over time and it takes con­tin­u­ous in­ter­ac­tion be­tween the reg­u­la­tor and stake hold­ers to en­sure that the laws are in the best in­ter­est of all. Ini­tially, some of the rules in­tro­duced by FSSAI had cre­ated a scare in the trade in­dus­try. That was be­cause the in­dus­try was un­pre­pared for their im­ple­men­ta­tion. But over the past few years, FSSAI has moved to en­gag­ing with the trade more vig­or­ously and the re­sults have been pos­i­tive. How­ever, there’s still a long way to go in align­ing our rules with Codex, which is the world body for foods stan­dards. Rishabh As­rani, Direc­tor, Sri Roda Foods: All rules take time to be ac­cepted by the peo­ple and it took us some time be­fore we could in­cor­po­rate those new rules by FSSAI. In the past cou­ple of years, we have adapted well to the rules on print­ing of pro­duc­tion date, ex­piry date and the lot num­ber. We are com­ply­ing with all manda­tory re­quire­ments by putting the in­for­ma­tion on the la­bel and ad­her­ing to all the reg­u­la­tory norms. To what ex­tent has the sce­nario changed on these two fronts: (a) Stricter norms for food safety com­pli­ance by im­porters and (b) sim­pli­fy­ing the rules to make it eas­ier for im­porters to do busi­ness.

Rakesh Banga: Com­pli­ance norms for im­porters and FSSAI norms on im­ported foods have been rea­son­ably ra­tio­nal­ized over the years and are mostly based on sci­en­tific and in­ter­na­tional stan­dards. Rules are be­ing sim­pli­fied to make it eas­ier for im­porters to do busi­ness.

Fram­ing and ap­ply­ing rules are two dif­fer­ent as­pects of reg­u­la­tion. FSSAI has been en­gag­ing with the trade on a reg­u­lar ba­sis and it has been seek­ing our in­puts for draft­ing of the reg­u­la­tory guide­lines. How­ever, it would be more help­ful to have in­ter­ac­tions on the fram­ing of rules as well. Rishabh As­rani: Both the im­porters as well as FSSAI have de­vel­oped a mu­tual un­der­stand­ing for en­sur­ing food safety com­pli­ance. In fact, we try to ful­fill all the re­quire­ments as far as pos­si­ble and we ap­pre­ci­ate FSSAI co­op­er­at­ing with the im­porters.

Which are the spe­cific ar­eas where you feel that the FSSAI can do more to lib­er­al­ize the reg­u­la­tory frame­work. Which are the sticky ar­eas for im­porters still?

Rakesh Banga: I feel there is a need for an online in­ter­ac­tive mod­ule on the FSSAI web­site, where traders can raise their queries and get the an­swers within a time frame. That would be of great help. Han­dling of food sam­ples, es­pe­cially of per­ish­able prod­ucts need to be fine-tuned and the process should be made more sys­tem­atic – right from the with­drawal of sam­ples till the time they are an­a­lyzed. Rishabh As­rani: We feel the test­ing of prod­ucts at the port could be done a bit faster. The de­lay and de­mur­rage charges at the port are very high. On av­er­age, the test­ing of prod­uct takes about 6-7 days and we lose a lot of money to ship­ping com­pa­nies for such delays, which also in­crease the cost­ing of our prod­ucts.

What has been the rate of growth of im­ported and gourmet food prod­ucts to In­dia in the past cou­ple of years and how do you see this mar­ket’s po­ten­tial in the com­ing years?

Rakesh Banga: The Make in In­dia ini­tia­tive has con­trib­uted to more im­ports of raw ma­te­ri­als, in­gre­di­ents and in­ter­me­di­ates as com­pared to value-added con­sumer prod­ucts. A 25 to 30 per cent growth on a year-on-year ba­sis would be a rea­son­able pro­jec­tion for the com­ing years. Rishabh As­rani: The growth rate of im­ported and gourmet food prod­ucts to In­dia has been on an in­cline with more peo­ple ex­per­i­ment­ing with dif­fer­ent cuisines. Grow­ing aware­ness among con­sumers has led to an in­crease in the de­mand of gourmet food from across the globe.

The nat­u­ral and or­ganic cat­e­gory’s phe­nom­e­nal growth and mer­gence with the world of gourmet has meant that to­day more gourmet prod­ucts are us­ing nat­u­ral and or­ganic in­gre­di­ents (and ap­peal­ing to con­sumers’ so­cial con­sciences by of­fer­ing prod­ucts that are good for the en­vi­ron­ment and for the work­ers who pro­duce them). At the same time, more nat­u­ral foods re­tail­ers are car­ry­ing up­scale, gourmet food and bev­er­age items that meet their qual­ity stan­dards.

Ur­ban In­dia drives gourmet’s growth

Who are the big buy­ers of gourmet and in­ter­na­tional foods in In­dia? Ur­ban res­i­dents are by and large the ma­jor reg­u­lars of gourmet food in In­dia. This is be­cause ur­ban pop­u­la­tions have higher earn­ings when com­pared to their ru­ral equiv­a­lents and spend over 40 per cent of their in­come on food alone, en­hanc­ing the qual­ity of prod­ucts con­sumed. “The big­gest buy­ers for gourmet and in­ter­na­tional prod­ucts are con­sumers who are well trav­elled, ex­pe­ri­ence seek­ers (not only price), as­pi­ra­tional, cos­mopoli­tan and dig­i­tally aware. We iden­tify and cat­e­go­rize them as PIKU cus­tomers who are young in­di­vid­u­als with ris­ing in­comes and high pur­chas­ing power. They are ex­per­i­men­tal and love to ex­plore and ex­pe­ri­ence new cuisines and prod­ucts,” says Sankara­narayanan of HYPERCITY.

Amit Lo­hani, MD , Max Foods and Con­venor at Fo­rum of In­dian Food Im­porters, says: “The best per­form­ing mar­kets for gourmet, in­ter­na­tional and im­ported foods re­main the met­ros like Mum­bai, Delhi, Ban­ga­lore, Chennai, and Hyderabad. The con­sump­tion pat­tern is based on how ad­ven­tur­ous and ver­sa­tile the mar­ket is and wher­ever there is ex­po­sure you will find an in­crease in the con­sump­tion of gourmet, in­ter­na­tional and im­ported foods.” He cites the ex­am­ple of Hyderabad which, un­til a few years ago, was not a big mar­ket but has now be­come one. “Wher­ever the IT in­dus­try is present, and where there is a high con­cen­tra­tion of pro­fes­sion­als, the in­ter­na­tional cat­e­gory is pick­ing up. De­mand is also pick­ing up in small towns like In­dore. It was ear­lier re­stricted to com­mod­ity prod­ucts like Pringles, Fer­rero Rocher and Red Bull. But now peo­ple in these ar­eas are go­ing to the sec­ondary level of food, and are try­ing out dif­fer­ent kinds of pasta sauces, cheeses and high-end con­fec­tionery items. The North and the West are more will­ing to ex­per­i­ment with their food as com­pared to the South and East,” ob­serves Lo­hani.

Ac­cord­ing to a study by Min­tel, peo­ple are will­ing to spend more money on gourmet gifts for spe­cial oc­ca­sions through per­sonal com­mit­ments, such as pay­ing ex­tra for or­ganic or all-nat­u­ral foods, or sim­ply for their own in­dul­gence. Ad­di­tion­ally, more venues are now open to them where they can pur­chase these prod­ucts. Where one could for­mally only buy gourmet prod­ucts at spe­cialty stores, to­day you find many of the same prod­ucts at su­per­mar­kets, nat­u­ral food stores, air­port shops, online re­tail­ers, mass mer­chan­dis­ers, and big-box stores.

The cat­e­gory’s core tar­get au­di­ence is in the age group 16-40 years, com­pris­ing peo­ple with ex­po­sure to taste, fa­mil­iar­ity in the us­age of gourmet prod­ucts, and will­ing­ness to pay a premium for bet­ter culi­nary taste. Apart from the ur­ban elite con­sumers, ho­tels and restau­rants are the other ma­jor con­sumers of gourmet food prod­ucts in In­dia. In­ter­na­tional cui­sine restau­rants are open­ing up in ev­ery neigh­bor­hood of top metro cities and of­fer­ings of sea­soned in­ter­na­tional vari­ants such as Pek­ing duck with Os­se­tra caviar, Kanzuri shrimp, Jamóibérico Pata Ne­gra – the gourmet ham sourced from acorn- fed pigs – and con­tem­po­rary sushi can be sa­vored at a num­ber of fine din­ing spe­cial­ity restau­rants.

“In­dia has a very young pop­u­la­tion will­ing to ex­per­i­ment and flirt with new cuisines. “In­creas­ing health and nu­tri­tion aware­ness has made gourmet food a huge op­por­tu­nity in the coun­try. The grow­ing num­ber of In­di­ans com­ing back from abroad and the ex­pa­tri­ate pop­u­la­tion in the coun­try are also con­stantly de­mand­ing newer spe­cialised prod­ucts such as gourmet cheeses, ar­ti­sanal breads, and so

on. This is go­ing to in­crease con­sump­tion. Also, es­pe­cially in the met­ros, with time and space re­duc­ing, women are out­sourc­ing a lot of kitchen ac­tiv­i­ties. Thus, cat­e­gories such as pastes, sauces, chut­neys, peeled and chopped veg­eta­bles, cur­ries and other value-added prod­ucts are now hot-sell­ers. Jux­ta­posed against these trends defin­ing ur­ban In­dia, gourmet food re­tail­ing is only go­ing to get big­ger in the coun­try,” af­firms Foodhall’s Avni.

Re­tail­ers’ ap­proach to gourmet

Rid­ing on the back of a boom­ing econ­omy and ris­ing in­come lev­els of con­sumers, gourmet and in­ter­na­tional foods re­tail­ing is on way to be­com­ing the new wave in In­dia. To lever­age its grow­ing mar­ket po­ten­tial, re­tail­ers are al­lo­cat­ing greater shelf space to the cat­e­gory, and ex­pand­ing their prod­uct ranges. Lead­ing food and gro­cery chains known for their gourmet as­sort­ment such as Foodhall, Go­drej Na­ture’s Bas­ket, HYPERCITY and SPAR Hyper­mar­kets host a line of premium and niche prod­ucts in the gourmet and in­ter­na­tional cat­e­gory. “We stock ev­ery­thing one can ex­pect to find at any in­ter­na­tional food store. Our of­fer­ings at Foodhall range from tomatillo (green toma­toes of Mex­ico) to gluten-free breads such as pizza dough, bagels to a range of su­per-food op­tions such as Greek yo­ghurts, fat-free or­ganic milk, tofu, gourmet choco­lates, oils and vine­gars, smoked sal­mon, mock meats, spe­cialty cold cuts, teas, fresh truf­fles and var­i­ous food de­lights in­clud­ing a va­ri­ety of In­dian foods,” points out Avni. “In the gourmet cat­e­gory, we stock an ex­otic as­sort­ment of au­then­tic food prod­ucts across cat­e­gories like cheese, condi­ments, break­fast foods/ in­gre­di­ents, bev­er­ages, pro­cessed foods, bak­ery items, canned foods, wines, va­ri­eties of olive oil, in­ter­na­tional sauces, pulses and flour sourced from a va­ri­ety of places around the world. Amongst in­ter­na­tional cui­sine, we house Thai, Ja­panese, Mex­i­can and Mediter­ranean in­gre­di­ents and prod­ucts in stores,” says Sankara­narayanan.

Sim­i­larly, SPAR, whose credo “Cel­e­brate the World” is in keep­ing with its motto of es­tab­lish­ing the pop­u­lar­ity of gourmet and in­ter­na­tional foods across the coun­try, pro­motes pop­u­lar cuisines of the world. As SPAR has a foot­print in over 40 coun­tries, it is able to en­sure the ex­change of lots of ideas and prod­ucts and lever­age them to­ward the en­hance­ment of its as­sort­ment. “We stock a wide range of gourmet

and in­ter­na­tional prod­ucts rang­ing from cheese, olive oil, pas­tas, salad dress­ings, ex­otic/ im­ported fruits, veg­eta­bles, con­serves/ pre­serves and seafood to name a few,” states Kr­ish­nan, adding that SPAR is a nat­u­ral choice of many ex­pat com­mu­ni­ties who shop gourmet prod­ucts. “With a strong as­sort­ment, great qual­ity, at­trac­tive price and un­beat­able ser­vice, we also be­come a pre­ferred choice for brands to drive their of­fer­ings. All this helps us re­de­fine the con­ven­tional cus­tomer seg­men­ta­tion and of­fer choices to all our cus­tomers.”

The as­sort­ment and shelf space for gourmet foods at top re­tail­ers varies ac­cord­ing to the de­mand for dif­fer­ent prod­uct cat­e­gories and the sea­son. For in­stance, ev­ery SPAR store of­fers a cus­tom­ized as­sort­ment to meet the needs of the lo­cal clien­tele, and this de­ter­mines the author­ity of gourmet play, which varies with ev­ery catch­ment. As ev­ery store as­sort­ment is cu­rated for the par­tic­u­lar catch­ment, there is no sin­gle size fits all ap­proach to any cat­e­gory, in­clud­ing gourmet. The as­sort­ment also varies largely with the cat­e­gories and sea­son. “When we bet on im­ported Ki­wis or cel­e­brate Italian food fes­ti­val in a par­tic­u­lar sea­son, the space al­lot­ted nat­u­rally goes up. We use a com­bi­na­tion of ar­eas – some are per­ma­nently ear­marked and some are cel­e­bra­tory ar­eas used to am­plify the fes­ti­val or cui­sine. We are al­ways on the look­out for coun­tries/ part­ners who would like to “Cel­e­brate the World” with us and cre­ate spe­cific fes­ti­vals to­gether,” re­veals Kr­ish­nan.

While gourmet and in­ter­na­tional prod­ucts are present across all mod­ern trade stores in some form or the other, the shelf space al­lo­cated to the cat­e­gory is com­par­a­tively higher at spe­cial­ist re­tail­ers. “About 60 per cent of the shelf space at Foodhall stores is oc­cu­pied by gourmet and in­ter­na­tional range,” dis­closes Avni. At Kipps Mart in Ludhiana, al­most 60 per cent of the prod­ucts are im­ported foods. The non-im­ported items are the fresh pro­duce range, pulses and the bak­ery sec­tion. Says Hitesh Arora, Direc­tor, Kipps Mart, “Brands such as Coca-cola, Kraft, Cad­bury, Silk, Amer­i­can Gar­den, Twinning’s, Monin, Real, Trop­i­cana, Tri­dent, Lindt, Lays, 24 Mantra, Eco life, Whole Food and our own bak­ery prod­ucts are the most in de­mand. Un­der the im­ported items, we have added kitchen­ware and have also brought in more break­fast ce­re­als.” The most no­tice­able emerg­ing trend at the store is the in­creas­ing de­mand for or­ganic and nat­u­ral prod­ucts. “It is the new mar­ket trend with a good busi­ness po­ten­tial. We are try­ing to cre­ate greater cus­tomer aware­ness for this cat­e­gory through var­i­ous in-store ini­tia­tives,” in­forms Arora, adding that the or­ganic mar­ket is grow­ing at a pace of 25-30 per cent per an­num but is ex­pected to cross 65 per cent (ap­prox.) in an­other decade or so. “The con­tri­bu­tion of or­ganic food to our sales is 18-20 per cent, and it has been in­creas­ing ev­ery quar­ter,” he dis­closes.

Ku­naal Ku­mar, Owner, Mod­ern Bazaar stores in Delhi-ncr, says, “Al­most 60 per cent of the prod­ucts stocked in our store are im­ported prod­ucts. The cat­e­gories that are really work­ing are choco­lates, break­fast ce­re­als and sauces, like pasta sauces. Prod­ucts from the US and Europe like pasta and pasta sauces, choco­lates, etc, are ex­tremely pop­u­lar with the con­sumers. Though Asian cui­sine was not as pop­u­lar ear­lier, aware­ness is in­creas­ing and we now see peo­ple stock­ing up on Ja­panese prod­ucts like wasabi and sushi. Ev­ery year, the de­mand for im­ported foods in­creases by 10-15 per­cent.” Mod­ern

Al­most 60 per cent of the prod­ucts stocked in our store are im­ported prod­ucts. The cat­e­gories that are really work­ing are choco­lates, break­fast ce­re­als and sauces, like pasta sauces. — Ku­naal Ku­mar Owner, Mod­ern Bazaar

What makes Cor­ni­tos dif­fer­ent is its unique prepa­ra­tion and healthy in­gre­di­ents. Our Na­cho Crisps are cooked in health­ier corn oil, which no other brand is us­ing. — Vikram Agar­wal Direc­tor, Green­dot Health Foods Pvt. Ltd.

Bazaar of­fers a mix of in­ter­na­tional and na­tional brands along with a healthy por­tion of its pri­vate la­bels, mainly bak­ery items such as pas­tries, muffins and breads, with the last do­ing ex­cep­tion­ally well, ac­cord­ing to Ku­naal.

At HYPERCITY, 20% of the to­tal shelf space is ded­i­cated to the gourmet and in­ter­na­tional cat­e­gory, which pulls in about five per cent of the re­tailer’s over­all rev­enue. How­ever, it is tar­get­ing to take the rev­enue share from this seg­ment to 10% + in the next six months. The re­tailer is bank­ing on reg­u­lar pro­mo­tions, mul­ti­ple dis­plays, sam­pling and host­ing in­ter­na­tional food fes­ti­vals and other planned ac­tiv­i­ties along sim­i­lar lines to ac­cel­er­ate sales growth in its stores, which is cur­rently 15% year-on-year. “We aim to grow at more than 100% with our chang­ing mar­ket­ing strate­gies, vis­ual mer­chan­dis­ing and, most im­por­tantly, the as­sort­ment of our cur­rent prod­ucts and the ones in the pipe­line. We also aim to be a 10% sales con­trib­u­tor of only in­ter­na­tional brands in our over­all food busi­ness port­fo­lio,” re­veals Sankara­narayanan. He be­lieves that strate­gic range over­view and cat­e­gory-wise busi­ness plan is what makes each cat­e­gory per­form and de­liver growth and says that HYPERCITY closely mon­i­tors the qual­ity, taste and va­ri­ety of its as­sort­ment to drive its cus­tomers into mak­ing the pur­chas­ing de­ci­sion. “To be abreast with the com­pe­ti­tion, we en­sure that we stock fresh and up­dated range of prod­ucts that are the lat­est in trend.”

Best cat­e­gories

There are quite a few gourmet and in­ter­na­tional prod­ucts that have been at­tract­ing good de­mand over the years. In the in­ter­na­tional/ im­ported cat­e­gory, dairy im­ports – cheese, creams and dips – are wit­ness­ing in­creas­ing de­mand. The im­ported dairy mar­ket is led by prod­ucts from New Zealand and Aus­tralia; these two des­ti­na­tions form 85 per cent of the to­tal for­eign dairy prod­ucts in In­dia. Other emerg­ing des­ti­na­tions for dairy im­ports are Den­mark, France and China with im­pres­sive growth rates. The wine sec­tor is an­other fast grow­ing im­port cat­e­gory in In­dia with France, Italy, Aus­tralia and Singapore be­ing the main sourc­ing coun­tries. The pack­aged food seg­ment too is grow­ing at a fast pace with prod­ucts like sauces, pas­tas, choco­lates and co­coa prod­ucts be­ing the ma­jor sales driv­ers. Choco­lates and co­coa prod­ucts con­trib­ute a hefty share of the to­tal pack­aged im­ported food mar­ket in In­dia. Singapore, Malaysia, the Nether­lands and Italy are the ma­jor des­ti­na­tions for choco­lates and co­coa prepa­ra­tion in In­dia. Fruits, veg­eta­bles and nuts are also among the ma­jor con­trib­u­tors to the im­ported food bas­ket of In­dia. Ac­cord­ing to FIFI’S Amit Lo­hani, “We see a lot of ex­otic fruits com­ing in like wild berries and cran­ber­ries. A lot of Italian prod­ucts like truf­fles are very pop­u­lar. Cuisines of Ja­pan and South Amer­ica are also gain­ing pop­u­lar­ity.”

In terms of prod­uct de­mand in the gourmet and in­ter­na­tional foods cat­e­gory, the con­sumer pref­er­ence is shift­ing to more ex­otic in­gre­di­ents and foods ac­claimed for their au­then­tic­ity and vir­tu­os­ity. For in­stance, the syn­thetic Moz­zarella is slowly be­ing re­placed with the sharp-fla­vored Parme­san and broc­coli is fa­vored over the tra­di­tional cau­li­flower. An in­creas­ingly health-con­scious con­sumer seg­ment is pro­pel­ling the olive oil mar­ket in In­dia. Brands like Leonardo, Cola Vita, Ber­tolli and Fra­gata etc., which were known only to five star ho­tels un­til a cou­ple of years ago, are to­day eas­ily avail­able through re­tail out­lets. The olive oil mar­ket is grow­ing at a rate of 45%-50% an­nu­ally. Health at­tributes – such as the ab­sence of choles­terol – are the con­sid­er­a­tions driv­ing an in­creased con­sump­tion of olive oil by af­flu­ent In­dian house­holds. Given their ris­ing as­pi­ra­tion for the finer things in life, ur­ban In­di­ans are scout­ing for ways to get a taste of the world in their own kitchens.

The grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity of gourmet cheese in In­dia is largely due to the in­creas­ing ex­po­sure to the world. Gourmet cheeses, along with olive oil,

have truly ar­rived in the In­dian mar­ket and are well ac­cepted by the af­flu­ent and mid­dle class. The im­ported cheese mar­ket in In­dia is grow­ing at a rate of 30% and cheeses va­ri­eties like Haloumi, Fiore Sardo or Flower of Sar­dinia, Parmi­giano Reg­giano, Stil­ton, Pro­volone, Moz­zarella, Ro­que­fort, Gruyere, Camem­bert, Feta, etc., can be spot­ted in re­tail out­lets across the met­ros.

Pasta is one of the most pop­u­lar items in the gourmet foods cat­e­gory along with olive oil and cheeses. The univer­sal pop­u­lar­ity of Italian cui­sine and the emer­gence of or­ga­nized re­tail have boosted the con­sump­tion of im­ported pasta in In­dia. The mar­ket size of pasta is ex­pected to grow by 25-30% an­nu­ally. Bar­illa, De Cecco and San Remo are the most pop­u­lar brands of im­ported pas­tas.

With ur­ban­iza­tion and change in eat­ing habits, sauces and condi­ments have oc­cu­pied a sub­stan­tial shelf space in the In­dian gourmet out­lets. While may­on­naise, ketchup and olives are the most pop­u­lar, oth­ers such as chilli, soya, gherkins, etc., have also gained wide ac­cep­tance. The grow­ing de­mand for sauces and condi­ments comes from both in­di­vid­ual cus­tomers as well as in­sti­tu­tions such as ho­tels, restau­rants and clubs. Heinz, Tabasco, Remia, Bar­illa, Prego are some of the fa­mous im­ported brands.

Apart from these high vol­ume driven cat­e­gories in gourmet space, there are newer prod­ucts/ cat­e­gories that are be­ing in­creas­ingly adopted by the In­dian con­sumer. These in­clude fresh/ frozen berries, greek yo­gurts, pre­served lemons, yuzu fruit (east Asian fruit - hy­brid mix of man­darin, orange and lemon), tangines (ves­sel to cook Moroc­can dishes), salad leafs (radic­chio, kale, Chi­nese let­tuce, arugula, wa­ter­cress), grains (quinoa and cous­cous), egg re­place­ments (200 gm pack is equal to 66 eggs), gluten-free foods and pro­cessed but­ter. “There is a huge de­mand for gluten­free, health foods, and spe­cialty foods. Peo­ple are also look­ing out for a lot of in­ter­na­tional fla­vors. The in­ter­na­tional range helps in­tro­duce dif­fer­ent kinds of South Amer­i­can and Euro­pean fla­vors in the In­dian mar­ket like sea salt, wasabi fla­vors and Tom Yum (Thai), and they are do­ing really well,” says Lo­hani.

In line with the pop­u­lar cuisines of the world, re­tail­ers are stock­ing gourmet items to mesh with to­day’s fla­vor trends, whether those trends are cur­rent or emerg­ing. “At our SPAR stores, Italian foods are wit­ness­ing ex­cel­lent growth. We are see­ing good in­ter­est and trac­tion in Mex­i­can foods as well. Asian foods have al­ways en­joyed pop­u­lar­ity and cus­tomers are try­ing out new cat­e­gories and quite open to ex­per­i­men­ta­tion. Cat­e­gories like olive oil, pasta, ex­otic veg­eta­bles and im­ported fruits are also see­ing good growth. In the branded of­fer­ing space, the growth is also fu­eled by the ac­tive par­tic­i­pa­tion of the In­dian brands, which help in re­cruit­ing cus­tomers to this space,” in­forms Kr­ish­nan. Ex­plain­ing the growth and per­for­mance of the dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories, he says: “The growth of prod­uct cat­e­gories is very spe­cific to the lo­cale. In cer­tain lo­ca­tions, we are even clock­ing a strong high dou­ble digit growth. The stores in metro cities are lead­ing the growth for us in cat­e­gories like olive oil, ex­otic fruits/ veg­eta­bles, etc. How­ever, the stores in cities like Man­ga­lore and Coim­bat­ore are driv­ing re­cruit­ment of new cus­tomers in cat­e­gories like pasta, and culi­nary items where we see a lot of par­tic­i­pa­tion from In­dian com­pa­nies in of­fer­ing prod­ucts that are price com­pet­i­tive.”

HYPERCITY, which ex­clu­sively re­tails UK’S lead­ing brand Waitrose in In­dia, plays to the ca­chet that in­ter­na­tional prod­ucts bring to its ur­ban and as­pi­ra­tional cus­tomers. “The ‘im­ported’ tag and the brag fac­tor as­so­ci­ated with for­eign prod­ucts re­mains an at­trac­tive propo­si­tion for the up­wardly mo­bile cus­tomers. We re­tail a vast in­ter­na­tional prod­uct line, which is one of the ma­jor rea­sons why our cus­tomers come back to us for their daily food re­quire­ments,” points out Sankara­narayanan. He says

We, at Hap­pilo, are one of the largest im­porters of dry fruits and dried fruits in south­ern In­dia. Hap­pilo stands for de­liv­er­ing qual­ity food prod­ucts of In­ter­na­tional stan­dards. — Vikas D Na­har MD, Satvikk In­ter­na­tional

that Hypercity’s lead­ing sup­pli­ers for gourmet and in­ter­na­tional foods are Waitrose, Tree of Life, Suresh Ku­mar & Co., Pearl Foods, United Dis­trib­u­tors, L-comps & Im­pex Pri­vate Lim­ited and Sak­sham Im­pex Pri­vate Lim­ited. “Choco­lates, bis­cuits & sa­vories, soups and juices are the prod­ucts that have shown good mo­men­tum at our stores. Also, ‘Free From’ (free from sugar, free from gluten, free from lac­tose) is the cat­e­gory show­ing a lot of prom­ise and from which we fore­see good growth.”

Fruits & veg­gies, cheese, choco­lates and cuisinebased prod­ucts are the best-sell­ing prod­ucts at Foodhall, which earns 60% to 70% of its rev­enue from the gourmet and in­ter­na­tional foods. The chain is bet­ting big on su­per­foods be­com­ing the next big thing in the cat­e­gory. “The su­per­foods cat­e­gory will see the max­i­mum de­mand in the fu­ture. Also, spe­cial di­etary re­quire­ment foods, which in­clude ve­gan and gluten­free prod­ucts, are the next big trend we will get to see,” says Avni. As the health and well­ness trend will likely gain more mo­men­tum in the days ahead due to bet­ter con­sumer aware­ness, re­tail­ers are re­spond­ing to meet the evolv­ing needs of the cus­tomer. “At SPAR, we are see­ing a lot of con­scious­ness about health and well­ness. We see a lot of en­ergy in this space. Healthy snack­ing is gain­ing huge pop­u­lar­ity. The en­tire space is get­ting a lot of trac­tion and prod­ucts like ‘Trail mixes’, dried ex­otic fruits and nuts are gain­ing in de­mand. We also find a lot of ex­per­i­men­ta­tion in sauces – both pure as well as fu­sion – with In­dian fla­vors meet­ing in­ter­na­tional in­gre­di­ents. There will be a lot of ex­per­i­men­ta­tion hap­pen­ing in this space over the next 3–5 years,” pre­dicts Kr­ish­nan.

In­no­va­tion driv­ers in the gourmet cat­e­gory

Through a deeper un­der­stand­ing of the trends and prod­uct pro­files that sat­isfy the gourmet shop­pers’ de­sire for the unique and in­ter­est­ing, man­u­fac­tur­ers, and im­porters are help­ing to drive a new wave of in­no­va­tion in the mar­ket. Some of these play­ers are:

Green­dot Health Foods Pvt. Ltd. was the first com­pany to launch Na­cho Crisps in In­dian snacks un­der the brand name Cor­ni­tos. The brand has since grown to in­clude many more ex­cit­ing and in­ter­est­ing prod­uct ranges un­der its ban­ner. The flag­ship prod­uct is Cor­ni­tos na­cho crisps, which com­mands more than 70% mar­ket share in the cat­e­gory in In­dia. Cor­ni­tos na­cho crisps is a Mex­i­can snack in in­ter­na­tional fla­vors cater­ing to the In­dian palate. It is gluten-free and a zero trans-fat snack that comes in 11 ex­otic fla­vors. “What makes Cor­ni­tos dif­fer­ent is its unique prepa­ra­tion and healthy in­gre­di­ents. Our Na­cho Crisps are cooked in health­ier corn oil, which no other brand is us­ing,” says Vikram Agar­wal, Direc­tor, Green­dot Health Foods Pvt. Ltd. Corn is a good source of fiber and has di­ges­tive ben­e­fits, which make na­chos the per­fect healthy snack choice. The nitro­gen-flushed tech­nique keeps the prod­uct fresh for months: Cor­ni­tos na­chos have a shelf life of six months.

Apart from Na­cho Crisps, Cor­ni­tos’ brand port­fo­lio cov­ers prod­ucts such as taco shells, spe­cialty sauces, roasted nuts - cashews & al­monds, coated green peas and pick­les - jalapeno pep­pers & gherkins. These prod­ucts be­long to dis­tinct prod­uct ranges and are known for their char­ac­ter­is­tic fea­tures. But the over­ar­ch­ing fea­ture of all Cor­ni­tos prod­ucts is their health at­tribute. “Cor­ni­tos is for ev­ery­one. It’s a healthy choice and for peo­ple from all age groups and all walks of life,” says Vikram. Cor­ni­tos prod­ucts are avail­able pan-in­dia in re­tail, e-re­tail and mod­ern trade stores. They are also avail­able for In­sti­tu­tional sales across air­lines, Horeca, mul­ti­plexes and cafes. The sales con­tri­bu­tion is 38% from mod­ern trade, 57% from gen­eral trade and 5% from online. Cur­rently, Cor­ni­tos prod­ucts are avail­able in 300 tier I and II cities through a net­work of over 30,000 plus re­tail­ers. The com­pany has em­barked on a rapid

Our main fo­cus is on Euro­pean foods, im­ported mainly from Italy and Spain and our main brands in­clude Fi­garo, Cam­pagna, Italian Gar­den, Varvello, Novi, Sica, Duchef, and San Mar­cos. — Deepak As­rani MD, Sri Roda Foods

ex­pan­sion of its dis­tri­bu­tion net­work to grow its prod­ucts in tier III towns as well.

Cor­ni­tos range of salsa dips is made from farm fresh in­gre­di­ents and is avail­able in two vari­ants – hot and mild and the re­cently launched fruity ver­sion – pineap­ple salsa with real chunks of fresh pineap­ple. Cor­ni­tos “Do It Your­self” range in­cludes four-inch crunchy taco shells made of non-gmo corn, cooked in corn oil and “Just Heat and Eat” Cor­ni­tos re­fried beans. The com­pany has re­cently launched new vari­ants in taco shells – spinach gar­lic taco shells in green color and beet­root chili taco shells in red color.

Cor­ni­tos Pop N Crunch range in­cludes premium cashew, Cal­i­for­nia al­mond and ex­otic coated green peas, pro­cessed in the lat­est tech­nol­ogy in im­ported roast­ing line. The range is avail­able in six vari­ants but an­other fresh vari­ant – roasted seeds in premium cat­e­gory – will be made avail­able soon.

The com­pany re­cently launched a new fla­vor in Na­cho Crisps- Cheesy Sour Cream and Onion, which is a pop­u­lar fla­vor all over the world. “The brand will keep mak­ing con­tin­u­ous ef­forts to foray into seg­ments that in­ter­est its tar­get au­di­ence. We have a cou­ple of new prod­ucts com­ing up later this year. It would in­clude an ex­ten­sion of Na­cho Crisps range in 30 gm packs, tri­colour Na­chos, premium seeds and nuts mixes, Cantina style round Na­chos and many more, re­veals Vikram.

Satvikk In­ter­na­tional, a part of Jain In­dia Group, op­er­ates the health food gourmet brand Hap­pilo, which of­fers a com­plete range of nuts, dried fruits and fu­sion food, in­clud­ing home­grown and im­ported prod­ucts. Head­quar­tered in Ban­ga­lore, the com­pany en­joys over four decades of ex­pe­ri­ence in the food in­dus­try, deal­ing in an ex­clu­sive range of dry fruits, dried fruits, spices, healthy seeds, trial mixes, fes­tive gift ham­pers and more. “We, at Hap­pilo, are one of the largest im­porters of dry fruits and dried fruits in south­ern In­dia. Hap­pilo stands for de­liv­er­ing qual­ity food prod­ucts of in­ter­na­tional stan­dards. In the past year of oper­a­tions, we have not re­ceived even a sin­gle qual­ity com­plaint. We have been pro­duc­ing and dis­tribut­ing qual­ity nuts and spices since 1969. With a wide va­ri­ety of prod­ucts that cater to ev­ery bud­get and taste, our best sell­ers have found their way into the homes and hearts of many house­holds. We have a com­plete range of im­ported dry fruits, dried fruits, berries and spices in in­ter­na­tional qual­ity and world class pack­ag­ing,” says Vikas D Na­har, MD, Satvikk In­ter­na­tional.

Hap­pilo prod­ucts have been well re­ceived in the mar­ket. Its ex­otic range of dry fruits and unique prod­ucts, which are a fu­sion of nuts, dried fruits and healthy seeds have be­come the best sell­ers in its prod­uct cat­a­log. Its Brazil nuts, Ma­cadamia nuts, or the re­cently launched ex­clu­sive mixes of ex­otic dry fruits, dried fruits and health seeds have all been suc­cess­ful in at­tract­ing the at­ten­tion of health-savvy con­sumers. “We are striv­ing to give our cus­tomers the largest and best col­lec­tion of dry fruits, dried fruits and health seeds and work­ing on the ex­tra range of ex­otic dry fruits and dried fruits in our state of the art fa­cil­i­ties which has ca­pac­ity of pro­duc­ing upto 40000 units per day,” points out Na­har.

Hap­pilo prod­ucts are ma­jorly tar­geted at youths in age range of 25 to 45. But be­ing a health food brand, its prod­ucts are rel­e­vant for all those who want to keep them­selves healthy. “The best ad­van­tage that we have over oth­ers is we never com­pro­mise with the qual­ity at any cost and have a lot of unique prod­ucts. We travel the world to pro­cure the very best nuts, dry fruits, dried fruits and healthy seeds. We have a state-of-the-art pro­duc­tion fa­cil­ity with ISO 22000 & HACCP cer­ti­fi­ca­tions. Also, we have a strong dis­tri­bu­tion net­work with 500+ stores in 15 cities and are avail­able on all ma­jor e-com­merce por­tals,” says Na­har, adding that Hap­pilo prod­ucts are known for hav­ing the best qual­ity and taste and have con­trib­uted to the top sell­ing range of var­i­ous online and off­line re­tail­ers. “We started with ba­sic range of dry fruits and dried fruits ini­tially and cur­rently have 34 va­ri­eties of health foods. The brand is avail­able with al­most all top re­tail­ers, be it online plat­forms like Ama­zon, Big­bas­ket, Flip­kart, Zop­now or off­line

We started with the im­port of culi­nary herbs and re-packed the same un­der the brand name ‘Verdew’, which was a novel prod­uct a bit ahead of its time for the In­dian mar­ket. — Pranay Gamb­hir Direc­tor, P&N Busi­ness Ven­tures Pvt. Ltd.

stores like HYPERCITY, West­side, SPAR, Nil­giris, Food­world, D-mart and other ma­jor mod­ern trade out­lets in­clud­ing those in gen­eral trade.

As far as sales are con­cerned, it is fairly dis­trib­uted across all the three chan­nels. About 45% of the sales come from mod­ern trade whereas online chan­nels con­trib­ute to 30% of its sales with the bal­ance 25% sales com­ing from gen­eral trade, which is be­ing ex­panded rapidly to fur­ther im­prove per­cent­age share from it. All ma­jor metro cities and tier 1 cities are key mar­kets for Hap­pilo prod­ucts. “Though we have ac­cess to each and ev­ery cor­ner of In­dia via e-com­merce, we are de­vel­op­ing a strong dis­tri­bu­tion chan­nels to make our prod­ucts avail­able in each and ev­ery for­mat across the na­tion. Cur­rently, we have 10 su­per-stock­ists, 12 dis­trib­u­tors and tie-ups with 500+ stores in 15 cities. At the pace we are ex­pand­ing, we will reach in 2,000+ re­tail stores shortly,” says Na­har.

The com­pany has clocked 20%+ growth rate ev­ery month for the pre­vi­ous year and is sure of notch­ing up even higher num­bers on the back of its var­i­ous prod­uct in­no­va­tions and its all-out ef­forts to pen­e­trate the mar­ket even deeper. “We are into all kinds of ATL and BTL ac­tiv­i­ties and al­ways try to con­nect with our cus­tomers with ex­clu­sive of­fers via our online and off­line part­ners. We do print ad­ver­tise­ment dur­ing fes­tive sea­sons and con­tin­u­ously do ac­tive so­cial me­dia mar­ket­ing aimed at vi­ral­ity. We en­sure the avail­abil­ity of our prod­ucts at all of our POS, en­abling cus­tomers to col­lect what they want. We have also done many sam­plings to ed­u­cate the cus­tomers about our new launches,” ex­plains Na­har.

On the com­pany’s radar are many op­por­tu­ni­ties to grow and ex­pand. “We, at Hap­pilo, are also ex­plor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties over­seas. Soon you will see us rock­ing the whole world. We are look­ing for ex­pan­sion to ev­ery cor­ner there is no limit to our growth. We are ab­so­lutely not look­ing to limit the pos­si­bil­ity of our growth op­por­tu­ni­ties,” says Na­har and states that the com­pany is also striv­ing to keep gourmet items within the pock­ets of the con­sumers. “At Hap­pilo, we try hard to pro­mote gourmet foods and health foods with our af­ford­able range and will con­tinue to do so. Our range of Hap­pilo snack packs starts at Rs. 25 and of­fers a healthy al­ter­na­tive to our con­sumers.”

Sri Roda Foods is a suc­ces­sor com­pany of D.D. In­dus­tries and has been in the food busi­ness for the past 60 years. The com­pany spe­cial­izes in the im­ports of canned and pack­aged food prod­ucts from all over the world. “Our main fo­cus, how­ever, is on Euro­pean foods, im­ported mainly from Italy and Spain and our main brands in­clude Fi­garo, Cam­pagna, Italian Gar­den, Varvello, Novi, Sica, Duchef, and San Mar­cos,” says Deepak As­rani, MD, Sri Roda Foods. The com­pany mostly caters to the in­sti­tu­tional seg­ment, in­clud­ing five star ho­tels and fine din­ing restau­rants. How­ever, some of its prod­ucts are avail­able in re­tail as well. Its brands, es­pe­cially Fi­garo and its Italian Gar­den prod­ucts com­mand a strong pres­ence in mar­ket. In re­cent years, Sri Roda has in­tro­duced sev­eral new prod­ucts, in­clud­ing a wide va­ri­ety of canned beans and veg­eta­bles from Italy. The com­pany has taken var­i­ous ini­tia­tives to in­tro­duce health­ier prod­ucts in the mar­ket. It al­ready has gluten-free po­lenta and cous­cous in its port­fo­lio, for which there is a grow­ing de­mand. Also, the com­pany is see­ing an in­creas­ing de­mand for gourmet mush­rooms like truf­fles, porcini & morels.

“Sales of im­ported food prod­ucts have been on a rise. How­ever, we are get­ting tough com­pe­ti­tion from lo­cal pro­duc­ers in In­dia im­i­tat­ing the prod­ucts,” says Deepak. To reach its clients, Sri Roda re­lies on its

Brand On1y has been spe­cially de­vel­oped keep­ing in mind the In­dian food cul­ture. On1y spices dis­til the best of in­dus­try prac­tices, sys­tem­atic pro­cesses, strin­gent qual­ity mea­sures and long-term re­search on in­no­va­tive pack­ag­ing. — Viren De­sai AVP, Brand Head, On1y

wide net­work of dis­trib­u­tors. Sri Roda prod­ucts are avail­able in all A & B tier cities and even in smaller towns where it has whole­sale mar­ket cus­tomers. “Mod­ern trade has been help­ful in reach­ing new cus­tomers through­out the coun­try. Post GST, we hope for sta­bil­ity in the mar­ket and ex­pect the de­mand and growth rate for our prod­ucts to show a good in­clin­ing curve. Also, we hope to fo­cus more on the online chan­nels,” re­veals Deepak, adding that the com­pany is also look­ing to start lo­cal pro­duc­tion of good qual­ity food prod­ucts and get into ex­ports.

P&N Busi­ness Ven­tures Pvt. Ltd., es­tab­lished in 2012, is based out of Chennai. In its ear­lier avatar, the com­pany was known as P&N Foods and was one of the first set of im­porters when it be­gan oper­a­tions in 1999. “We started with the im­port of culi­nary herbs and re-packed the same un­der the brand name ‘Verdew’, which was a novel prod­uct a bit ahead of its time for the In­dian mar­ket,” says Pranay Gamb­hir, Direc­tor, P&N Busi­ness Ven­tures Pvt Ltd. The com­pany is part of a big­ger busi­ness group – Tan Busi­ness Ven­tures, which has un­der its fold other food busi­nesses such as Splen­did Fine Foods and online store cold­kart.com

The com­pany has in­tro­duced quite a few in­ter­na­tional prod­ucts into the In­dian mar­ket. This year, it launched one of China’s lead­ing gourmet chilli-based sauces – Lao­ganma range – and is close to fi­nal­iz­ing a cou­ple of more Chi­nese cui­sine prod­ucts. It is also in­volved in sec­ondary dis­tri­bu­tion of many im­ported foods and works closely with com­pa­nies like Sak­sham Im­pex, Red­bull, ITC, Wild­wa­ter, Danone, Per­rier, Fer­raro, Sprig and many more.

P&N’S own prod­ucts are mainly tar­geted for the south­ern mar­ket es­pe­cially Tamil Nadu but its sec­ondary dis­tri­bu­tion im­ported prod­ucts are aimed at an all In­dia mar­ket. All its prod­ucts are known for their ex­clu­sive taste pro­file and are more fo­cused to­ward mod­ern trade and online plat­forms. The com­pany works closely with top re­tail­ers and col­lab­o­rates in terms of prod­uct pro­mo­tion and to ex­pand the reach of its prod­ucts to the con­sumers. Monin & Red­bull are its best-sell­ing and most pop­u­lar im­ported prod­ucts. Gamb­hir be­lieves that the mar­ket po­ten­tial for gourmet and in­ter­na­tional foods in In­dia is very promis­ing. “The am­pli­tude and pen­e­tra­tion of In­ter­net, Youtube, Mas­ter Chefs shows and the travel boom are all act­ing as de­mand driv­ers and en­cour­ag­ing ev­ery­one to try some­thing dif­fer­ent and au­then­tic,” he says, adding that the growth and pro­lif­er­a­tion of online plat­forms has en­sured that good food has no bound­aries.

On1y is a young gourmet sea­son­ings brand that came into the mar­ket in 2013. But it traces its lin­eage to its 77-year-old par­ent Jayanti – the agro­com­modi­ties busi­ness group. Cap­tur­ing the essence of Herbs & Spice in grinder bot­tles and sprin­kler tins, On1y is an hon­est at­tempt to bring the lux­ury of fresh ground spice to ev­ery house­hold. “Brand On1y has been spe­cially de­vel­oped keep­ing in mind the In­dian food cul­ture. On1y iden­ti­fies with the best of in­dus­try prac­tices, sys­tem­atic pro­cesses, strin­gent qual­ity mea­sures and long-term re­search on in­no­va­tive pack­ag­ing,” says Viren De­sai, AVP, Brand Head, On1y.

The brand to­day en­com­passes twenty-one vari­ants of gourmet sea­son­ings and herb prod­ucts, in­clud­ing Black Pep­per, Roasted Gar­lic and Pink Salt, Meat Supreme, Pink Salt, All-pur­pose sea­son­ing, Chilli flakes, Oregano, Basil and Pars­ley among oth­ers. “Italian sea­son­ing, fruit sea­son­ing and salad sea­son­ing in grinder bot­tles and basil, oregano and mixed herbs in sprin­kler tins are the most pop­u­lar con­sumer choices. Our strong­est mar­kets are Ban­ga­lore, Delhi, Mum­bai, Hyderabad, Chennai,” re­veals De­sai. The com­pany in­tro­duced a life­style gourmet prod­uct to cater to the new generation of glo­be­trot­ters be­tween the age of 25 and 45 years who love ex­per­i­ment­ing with ex­otic flavours and want to em­brace healthy liv­ing. The aim is to of­fer a very high

Our prod­uct port­fo­lio in­cludes tra­di­tional In­dian sweets, choco­lates, dried fruit, Turk­ish de­lights, baklava and baked sweets. We are a fast grow­ing brand and have es­tab­lished a strong net­work of more than 1,000 premium re­tail­ers and more than 20 dis­trib­u­tors in In­dia. — Shaishav Mittal Founder & CEO, Lovely Bake Stu­dio

qual­ity hy­gienic prod­uct of in­ter­na­tional stan­dards in ready-to-use for­mat for to­day’s youth. “In­dia has a huge po­ten­tial to ab­sorb gourmet and im­ported food prod­ucts. Liv­ing stan­dards are im­prov­ing; dou­ble in­come group is ex­pand­ing and with in­creas­ing in­ter­na­tional travel, the crav­ing for ex­otic food cul­ture is in­creas­ing among the youth. With an in­creas­ing num­ber of women join­ing the work­force along with the growth of dis­pos­able in­come, the gourmet and im­ported food seg­ment is bound to grow,” ex­plains De­sai, whose brand has been grow­ing at a healthy clip of over 30% in the past three years.

On1y range of prod­ucts of­fer a unique ex­pe­ri­ence through their in­no­va­tive func­tional pack­ag­ing de­signs which is a promis­ing start for any young brand; as gath­ered from feed­back re­ceived from cus­tomers across In­dia. The prod­ucts pack­aged in glass bot­tles with grinder caps and sprin­kler tins, blend so­phis­ti­ca­tion with con­ve­nience. “The great­est ad­van­tage of On1y lies in sin­gle source han­dling of farm-to-fork qual­ity. We have back­ward in­te­gra­tion pro­grams in herbs & spice farm­ing. Pro­cess­ing is done in BRC A grade cer­ti­fied fa­cil­i­ties, which are equipped with steam ster­il­iz­ers to keep a check on bac­te­rial con­tam­i­na­tion. It is a per­fect recipe for ev­ery health-con­scious con­sumer,” states De­sai. He says that the brand be­longs to the cat­e­gory of premium and not me-too prod­ucts. “They have been con­sciously de­signed for the niche In­dian con­sumer who val­ues health, sta­tus and con­ve­nience,” avers De­sai. The brand is con­stantly work­ing on build­ing an ex­ten­sive re­tail out­reach. On1y prod­ucts have a good pres­ence in all ma­jor met­ros, apart from be­ing avail­able in over 50 In­dian cities. “We en­sure that place­ment of our prod­ucts is rea­son­ably good in the premium stores. We have de­vised a novel strat­egy to at­tract niche con­sumers by dis­play­ing prod­ucts and their po­ten­tial uses us­ing ex­clu­sive in-store POP col­lat­er­als,” says De­sai who is con­fi­dent of his brand’s steady pace of growth in the fu­ture. “We are grow­ing at a steady pace and will con­tinue to tar­get qual­ity con­sumers who value in­no­va­tion and prod­uct in­tegrity. The young breed of ex­per­i­men­tal con­sumers with in­ter­na­tional ex­po­sure will also drive the de­mand for our prod­ucts sig­nif­i­cantly.”

Lovely Bake Stu­dio is a pre­mier Euro­pean in­spired bak­ery, which of­fers its guests 100% egg-less del­i­ca­cies, a first-of –its –kind con­cept in north In­dia. Bol­ster­ing Lovely Bake Stu­dio’s pres­ence in the food seg­ment is its sib­ling, Lovely Sweets, a lead­ing man­u­fac­turer and re­tailer of tra­di­tional In­dian sweets, also in north In­dia. “Our prod­uct range in both the brands per­forms ex­tremely well in all for­mats. Cook­ies sell all the year round and sales of sweets range picks up dur­ing the fes­ti­val sea­son,” says Shaishav Mittal, Founder & CEO, Lovely Bake Stu­dio. The USP of Lovely prod­ucts is that they are 100% egg­less, high qual­ity tasty prod­ucts with each cookie packed in­di­vid­u­ally in an at­trac­tive pack­ag­ing. Lovely’s egg-less cook­ies come packed in boxes of 75 gm, 200 gm and 400 gm. “Our prod­uct port­fo­lio in­cludes tra­di­tional In­dian sweets, choco­lates, dried fruit, Turk­ish de­lights, baklava and baked sweets. We have es­tab­lished a strong net­work of more than 1,000 premium re­tail­ers and more than 20 dis­trib­u­tors in In­dia,” in­forms Mittal. Like Lovely’s baked prod­ucts, Lovely Sweets has been the pre­ferred choice of sweets lovers since 1961 and en­joys a rep­u­ta­tion for qual­ity, cre­ativ­ity, va­ri­ety and af­ford­abil­ity.

The Lovely brand is widely ac­cepted and re­mem­bered by con­sumers for its qual­ity and taste. Lovely Bake Stu­dio, which is ISO 9001- 2015 and ISO 22000 cer­ti­fied, has re­cently in­tro­duced In­dian eth­nic snacks, which in­clude me­thi mathi, chakli, dry fruit ka­chori, bhakhar­badi and many more del­i­ca­cies. In ad­di­tion, the com­pany is also ag­gres­sively de­sign­ing new gift­ing con­cepts for the up­com­ing fes­ti­val sea­son and will be in­tro­duc­ing in­no­va­tive gift­ing op­tions for cus­tomers. The com­pany is also de­vel­op­ing a gluten-free range and low-calo­rie range of cook­ies. “Our ex­ist­ing prod­ucts are man­u­fac­tured us­ing healthy in­gre­di­ents such as oats, corn­flakes, al­monds, honey, cashew and pis­ta­chio,” says Mittal point­ing to the chang­ing con­sumer be­hav­ior wherein to­day’s ed­u­cated and well trav­elled con­sumers are will­ing to try out new in­no­va­tive prod­ucts that nor­mally big FMCG com­pa­nies can­not man­u­fac­ture.

We pro­mote healthy nuts and nu­tri­tious dried fruits like prunes, cran­ber­ries, etc. Our brands in the gourmet seg­ment are Tulsi, Gour­mia and Magic Nuts with Gour­mia Trail Mixes be­ing the lat­est ad­di­tion. — Ritesh Ba­jaj Direc­tor, K.B.B. Nuts Pvt. Ltd.

“They are will­ing pay a lit­tle more if the prod­uct is branded, healthy, nicely packed and hy­gien­i­cally man­u­fac­tured,” as­serts Mittal cit­ing mar­ket re­ports and sur­veys that point to the fact that nowa­days cus­tomers are bored of con­sum­ing reg­u­lar bis­cuits and are look­ing for in­no­va­tive func­tional cook­ies, which are healthy & tasty. “Our cook­ies are not only healthy but also give an in­ter­na­tional feel to any shelf/ end cap, wher­ever they are placed,” says Mittal, adding that 40% of the sales of Lovely’s baked prod­ucts come from mod­ern trade, an­other 40% from gen­eral trade and the rest from online sales.

The com­pany, whose top re­tail­ers in­clude Wh­smith, Wal­mart, Easy Day & Go­drej Na­ture’s Bas­ket, has been adding new chains ev­ery month and launch­ing its prod­ucts in the ex­ist­ing chains in dif­fer­ent states. “Since our prod­ucts are premium range, we are cur­rently sell­ing in all ma­jor metro cities across In­dia. We en­ter a new mar­ket by ap­point­ing at su­per-stock­ist who can sup­ply to both GT and MT chains. We give pro­mo­tional ma­te­rial and ad­ver­tise­ment sup­port to our buy­ers. In ad­di­tion, we also ap­point pro­mot­ers to do wet sam­pling,” in­forms Mittal, adding that the cook­ies in­dus­try is grow­ing an­nu­ally by about 35%. “We have ex­pe­ri­enced more than 100% sales growth ev­ery year for the past three years. We are build­ing up our pan-in­dia pres­ence and have also started ex­port­ing over­seas to the Mid­dle East and Hong Kong.

KBB Nuts Pvt. Ltd. is among the largest nuts and dry fruits busi­ness group in In­dia and among the top im­porters. With over four decades of ex­per­tise in the nuts and dry fruits seg­ment, the com­pany of­fers a wide range of raw and fla­vored prod­ucts for con­sumers, in­sti­tu­tions, Horeca and other sales chan­nels. “We pro­mote healthy nuts and nu­tri­tious dried fruits like prunes, cran­ber­ries, etc. Our brands in the gourmet seg­ment are Tulsi, Gour­mia and Magic Nuts with Gour­mia Trail Mixes be­ing the lat­est ad­di­tion. Tulsi is our flag­ship brand with al­monds as our lead prod­uct,” says Ritesh Ba­jaj, Direc­tor, K.B.B. Nuts Pvt. Ltd. The com­pany’s strong­est mar­ket is north In­dia but its prod­ucts have a pres­ence in most ma­jor cities and towns across In­dia.

In­creas­ing aware­ness of health needs on the part of con­sumers, grow­ing dis­pos­able in­come lev­els, bet­ter avail­abil­ity of prod­ucts, right pack­ag­ing, con­sis­tency in the qual­ity and ad­e­quate prod­uct com­mu­ni­ca­tion (la­belling) are some of the ma­jor rea­sons con­tribut­ing to the growth of the nuts and dry fruits mar­ket. “The In­dian dry fruits mar­ket is likely to dou­ble in the next four years on ris­ing de­mand for healthy and nu­tri­tious food,” points out Ba­jaj, adding that this com­bi­na­tion of fac­tors is also fu­el­ing the de­mand for gourmet foods in In­dia. “We see good de­mand for our prod­ucts in the fu­ture be­cause we are very con­sis­tent in main­tain­ing prod­uct qual­ity, have rea­son­able pric­ing and pro­vide our prod­ucts in con­tem­po­rary pack­ag­ing. Our flag­ship brand is Tulsi and its prod­uct range caters to the mass mar­ket as the prod­uct is con­sumed across all cul­tures and de­mo­graphic seg­ments. Our Gour­mia brand serves niche buy­ers of roasted snacks and also the im­pulse cat­e­gory in dried fruits. The Magic Nuts brand caters to a small but daily snack­ing buy­ers,” says Ba­jaj, adding that the com­pany is cur­rently also fo­cus­ing on med­i­cal stores, cof­fee shops and bars as new mar­kets for its prod­uct range. The com­pany is rapidly build­ing its sales team for pro­vid­ing bet­ter ser­vices across all sales chan­nels. “We get good sales pri­mar­ily through the con­ven­tional chan­nels – mod­ern + tra­di­tional trade. We are also of­fer­ing our prod­ucts on the com­pany web­site and other online por­tals. B+ and above towns are our key mar­kets. Rea­son­able pric­ing of prod­ucts with in­creased re­tail out­reach is the ba­sic strat­egy for tak­ing our prod­ucts to newer mar­kets and de­mo­graph­ics,” in­forms Ba­jaj. To ex­tend its re­tail out­reach, K.B.B. Nuts has been col­lab­o­rat­ing with re­tail­ers through com­pet­i­tive pric­ing of its prod­ucts, of­fer­ing bet­ter mar­gins and by beef­ing

We are pro­mot­ing the health ben­e­fits of Canola oil through var­i­ous medi­ums to cre­ate a healthy society and spread out our reach of healthy prod­ucts to the masses. Canola oil is grow­ing mar­ket as con­sumers are be­com­ing more aware about the ne­ces­sity to stay fit and healthy. — Ra­man Khanna Direc­tor, Eon Nat­u­rals Pvt. Ltd.

up its dis­tri­bu­tion ser­vice. It con­ducts reg­u­lar sam­pling drives to gen­er­ate cus­tomer aware­ness for its prod­ucts. “In terms of prod­uct de­mand, the con­sumer pref­er­ence is slow­ing shift­ing and re­plac­ing the usual prod­ucts on the kitchen shelf. Con­sumers are more open to ex­plor­ing both tra­di­tional and mod­ern health & life­style prod­ucts. We are meet­ing this de­mand by of­fer­ing good qual­ity prod­ucts at op­ti­mum prices sourced from the best sup­pli­ers around the world,” says Ba­jaj. He be­lieves that dry fruits as a cat­e­gory needs a two-pronged ap­proach at re­tail level to grow to its full po­ten­tial. The first step, he says, is to pro­mote daily con­sump­tion of raw and healthy prod­ucts as sta­ples. The sec­ond mea­sure is for man­u­fac­tur­ers to of­fer value-added nuts and dried fruits that carry the blends of health & taste. “In my opin­ion, there is a need for driv­ing home the mes­sage to mod­ern trade that nuts and dry fruits need to be placed in both the sta­ples and FMCG sec­tions of the store in keep­ing with the na­ture of the prod­uct.”

Eon Nat­u­rals Pvt. Ltd, es­tab­lished in 2012, is a prom­i­nent im­porter and sup­plier of re­fined ed­i­ble canola oil. Canola oil comes from the crushed seeds of the canola plant. It is part of the Bras­sica fam­ily. Cab­bages, broc­coli and cau­li­flower are also part of the same botan­i­cal fam­ily. The name “Canola” is a con­trac­tion of “Cana­dian” and “ola”, which means oil. Canola oil is the pro­duce of Canada, and sup­pli­ers like Eon Nat­u­rals are im­port­ing the prod­uct from Canada it­self, which en­sures that the qual­ity is guar­an­teed. One serv­ing of canola oil each day de­liv­ers about a quar­ter of all the vi­ta­min E that a hu­man body needs. Vi­ta­min E is an an­tiox­i­dant, which pro­tects the body’s fats and pro­teins from free rad­i­cal dam­age. Canola oil can also help to re­duce the risk of heart dis­ease, cancer and mem­ory loss. That apart, Canola has a high smok­ing point of 242°C. The United States Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion (FDA) has au­tho­rized a qual­i­fied health claim for canola oil’s abil­ity to re­duce the risk of heart dis­ease when used in place of sat­u­rated fat.

As a prod­uct di­rectly re­lated to health and nu­tri­tion seg­ment, the growth in de­mand for Canola oil has been steady and mainly be­cause of the aware­ness among con­sumers to eat and stay healthy. “We are pro­mot­ing the health ben­e­fits of Canola oil through var­i­ous medi­ums to cre­ate a healthy society and spread out our reach of healthy prod­ucts to the masses. Canola oil is grow­ing mar­ket as con­sumers are be­com­ing more aware about the ne­ces­sity to stay fit and healthy. They need healthy cook­ing oil op­tions in their kitchen and we have that prod­uct and we are pro­mot­ing it in ev­ery pos­si­ble way,” says Ra­man Khanna, Direc­tor, Eon Nat­u­rals Pvt. Ltd.

Eon Nat­u­rals is cur­rently fo­cused on Canola oil, but it shall be com­ing with a lot more im­ported cat­e­gory prod­ucts in the next three months. “Im­ported prod­ucts are wit­ness­ing a higher ac­cep­tance in ur­ban In­dian pock­ets. The ex­per­i­men­tal na­ture of the shop­per is an en­cour­age­ment for im­porters and the for­mats of­fer­ing im­ported & gourmet foods,” ob­serves Khanna. The strong­est mar­kets for Eon Nat­u­ral’s Canola oil are cur­rently Delhi-ncr, Ban­ga­lore & Chennai. The com­pany is right now fo­cus­ing on metro cities, tier 1 & tier - II cities and is ty­ing up with more play­ers in mod­ern trade, gen­eral trade and online trade. “Mod­ern trade and online trade in In­dia are grow­ing ex­ten­sively. Sales from these newer for­mats have even sur­passed gen­eral trade sales for the im­ported and gourmet food cat­e­gory. Cur­rently, we have good sales in premium gourmet out­lets such as Le Marche, Needs Su­per­mart and many more. In online we have tie-ups with Big­bas­ket and Gro­cer­max. We are plan­ning to en­ter more mod­ern trade chains for grow­ing our mar­ket share and sales. Also, ur­ban ar­eas re­main the tar­get seg­ment of our mar­ket,” points out Khanna.

Queens Quinoa is the largest pro­ducer of quinoa in In­dia. Quinoa is a su­per­food, which can be en­joyed across all ages after the ini­tial first year. Much has

Our ex­ist­ing range of prod­ucts in­cludes quinoa grain, quinoa flour, gluten-free quinoa pasta and guilt-free quinoa chips. We have been de­vel­op­ing new prod­ucts cat­e­gory based out of quinoa, which is help­ing dif­fer­ent cat­e­gory of users to start adopt­ing quinoa in their life­style. — CA Man­ish Goyal Co-founder, Queens Quinoa

been said on the growth of health seg­ment world­wide and In­dia is fast catch­ing up as ev­i­denced by the grow­ing de­mand for health foods like quinoa. The prod­uct is be­lieved to be a com­plete source of pro­tein, is gluten-free and helps in re­duc­ing di­a­betes, thereby be­com­ing a strong con­tender for the third most im­por­tant food­grain in In­dia.

Queens Quinoa has pi­o­neered the com­mer­cial pro­duc­tion of quinoa with­out the use of chem­i­cal fer­til­iz­ers and pes­ti­cides. The com­pany has put in place a pro­cess­ing fa­cil­ity that re­moves 100% Saponin. “We are look­ing after the pro­duc­tion, pro­cess­ing, value-ad­di­tion, mar­ket­ing and aware­ness cre­ation about quinoa. Our ex­ist­ing range of prod­ucts in­cludes quinoa grain, quinoa flour, gluten-free quinoa pasta and guilt-free quinoa chips. We have been de­vel­op­ing new prod­ucts cat­e­gory based out of quinoa, which is help­ing dif­fer­ent cat­e­gory of users to start adopt­ing quinoa in their life­style,” says CA. Man­ish Goyal, Co-founder, Queens Quinoa, adding that quinoa grain is its best-sell­ing prod­uct. Re­cently, the com­pany in­tro­duced gluten-free fusilli pasta and guilt-free quinoa chips in two fla­vors – cream onion and chilli tomato. It will soon be com­ing up with af­ford­able quinoa based ready-to-eat snacks to strengthen its re­tail out­reach.

Quinoa is sold pri­mar­ily through mod­ern trade and online chan­nels but for Horeca sales, gen­eral trade is the pre­ferred chan­nel. “As on date, we are listed across all the metro spe­cific mod­ern trade and also pan-in­dia based re­tail­ers where our sales are al­most equally dis­trib­uted,” says Goyal, while point­ing out that the over­all growth in quinoa (su­per grain) cat­e­gory has been more than 200% un­til re­cently and is likely to re­main at least 50% yearly un­til the next 8-10 years. “As on date, the pro­duc­tion of quinoa is hardly 0.1% of rice but is likely to reach at least 5% in the fu­ture.

“Our key mar­kets are in the health seg­ment – Gyms, weight-loss chains, well­ness stores and hospi­tals. We are now work­ing with in­flu­encers across the health seg­ment to cre­ate aware­ness around the prod­uct and brand. We are tar­get­ing the 7% di­a­betic pop­u­la­tion and the 10% health-con­scious seg­ment for our fu­ture growth. We or­ga­nize sem­i­nars and aware­ness cre­ation cam­paigns across In­dia, apart from mak­ing Queens Quinoa prod­ucts avail­able to con­sumers through var­i­ous modes,” con­fides Goyal.

An­to­nio Pina Diaz S.L op­er­ates the Span­ish saf­fron brand Pina. The ISO-3632 cer­ti­fied com­pany and its im­porter arm in In­dia – In­dian Prod­ucts Pvt Ltd. – are both en­gaged in saf­fron ac­tiv­ity un­der BRC cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, which guar­an­tees that there is no com­pro­mise in terms of the qual­ity and pu­rity of its saf­fron. “Qual­ity is Pina’s key USP. We use the Freeze Dry­ing tech­nique, which is our patent tech­nol­ogy to dry saf­fron. It keeps the aroma long last­ing,” says Vipin Ag­gar­wal, Coo-in­dia, An­to­nio Pina Diaz S.L. He says that the saf­fron mar­ket is very com­pli­cated in In­dia. Due to adul­ter­ation, procur­ing pure saf­fron is a chal­lenge. “Lots of in­fe­rior or adul­ter­ated saf­fron is avail­able in the mar­ket and they can­not be com­pared with our prod­uct. We have no com­pe­ti­tion in terms of qual­ity.” Most of the saf­fron brands in the mar­ket are not ISO cer­ti­fied. Peo­ple use saf­fron very oc­ca­sion­ally and that too for the pur­pose of demon­stra­tion only. Con­sumers, by and large, are not aware of the true ben­e­fits of saf­fron. “We are ed­u­cat­ing the peo­ple that saf­fron should be part of the kitchen. With­out saf­fron our food is ‘in­com­plete’. Use saf­fron in your food and keep the doc­tor away,” says Vipin.

How­ever, the scope for pure saf­fron is im­mense even though there is no such scope for new saf­fron prod­ucts. “As we deal in only raw saf­fron, the scope for new prod­ucts does not ex­ist. At most, we can cre­ate new packs in terms of size only. Some­times we do change our pack de­sign so that the con­sumer

Qual­ity is Pina’s key USP. We use the Freeze Dry­ing tech­nique, which is our patent tech­nol­ogy to dry saf­fron. It keeps the aroma long last­ing. — Vipin Ag­gar­wal Coo-in­dia, An­to­nio Pina Diaz S.L.

gets a dif­fer­ent look and feel of the prod­uct,” ex­plains Vipin. But the en­cour­ag­ing thing for his com­pany is that peo­ple are grad­u­ally be­com­ing aware about the health ben­e­fits of saf­fron and buy­ing the prod­uct more of­ten. “There is scope for 100% growth. Our brand sales are in­creas­ing ev­ery year,” re­veals Vipin “We are mak­ing con­sumers aware about the pu­rity as­pect of saf­fron. The re­sults are en­cour­ag­ing as peo­ple are now grad­u­ally be­com­ing very con­scious about pu­rity. Ear­lier, when peo­ple bought saf­fron, price was the key con­sid­er­a­tion. Now, when they buy it is the qual­ity that plays on their mind. The con­sumer is to­day ready to pay if the prod­uct is pure. That is why 1 gm of Pina Supreme sells for an MRP of Rs. 1099, and it is the high­est sell­ing unit,” notes Vipin. Pina Supreme is also the com­pany’s best-sell­ing saf­fron cat­e­gory and is avail­able at all gourmet shops and top F&G re­tail­ers pan-in­dia. “Pina brand is avail­able at METRO Cash & Carry, Big Bazaar, HYPERCITY, Tesco, Q-mart, Balaji Grand Bazar, Her­itage, Mod­ern Bazaar, Honey Money Top, Alfa, Le Marche, and at many more premium out­lets. Gourmet shops are our key out­lets but we are ed­u­cat­ing re­tail­ers to cre­ate this cat­e­gory for the gen­eral peo­ple as well,” dis­closes Vipin who is also look­ing to phar­macy stores for stock­ing saf­fron.

Maple­leaf Dis­tri­bu­tion Pvt. Ltd. has over 15 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in re­tail and whole­sale trade of in­ter­na­tional foods in In­dia. The com­pany is the sole distrib­u­tor in In­dia for a host of in­ter­na­tional brands – Cantina Mex­i­cana, Pan­tai, Euro, Ja­panese Choice, Se­lect, Lady Anna, Prung Keng, Manora, Howhow, Gogi, OHO, FOCO, Her­itage, Ti­paros, Sante, Healthy­boy, and Star Lion. “We of­fer a wide range of Ori­en­tal, Mex­i­can and Ja­panese cui­sine apart from ready-to-eat prod­ucts, con­fec­tionery and break­fast cat­e­gory range. Our port­fo­lio sup­ports a to­tal of 380 SKUS, which is a com­plete su­per­mar­ket range,” says Ni­raj Mu­rarka, MD, Maple­leaf Dis­tri­bu­tion Pvt. Ltd. The com­pany counts Pan­tai as its strong­est brand in In­dia with Pan­tai sweet chilli sauces, curry paste, co­conut milk & cream and rice ver­mi­celli as top-sell­ers in its port­fo­lio.

“Our ex­pe­ri­ence in re­tail and whole­sale trade and our as­so­ci­a­tion with the Horeca in­dus­try gives us an edge in the in­ter­na­tional food cat­e­gory, which is the fastest grow­ing seg­ment in In­dia,” says Mu­rarka, point­ing out that Maple­leaf’s com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage lies in the fact that it has a com­plete range of Ori­en­tal cui­sine prod­ucts. “We are the top most im­porters in In­dia for prod­ucts from Thai­land and have about 14 Thai food com­pa­nies in our fold for which we are the sole im­porters to In­dia. We have the de­sire, pas­sion and drive to be the No. 1 distrib­u­tor of Asian & Mex­i­can prod­ucts im­ported into In­dia. With a cur­rent turnover of USD 4 mil­lion, and a growth rate of 30% CAGR for the past year, we have set a tar­get to achieve an an­nual growth of at least 30% per an­num for the next five years,” avers Mu­rarka.

Be­fore in­tro­duc­ing in­ter­na­tional prod­ucts into the coun­try, the com­pany goes for a rig­or­ous test mar­ket­ing of prod­ucts, of­ten in tier II cities of In­dia. “After test mar­ket­ing the prod­uct, we im­port ap­pro­pri­ate prod­ucts from our in­ter­na­tional clients and then dis­trib­ute them across the coun­try through our net­work of whole­sale, in­sti­tu­tional and re­tail stock­ists, in­forms Mu­rarka, say­ing that the com­pany is tar­get­ing a turnover of USD 14 mil­lion from its dis­tri­bu­tion of im­ported prod­ucts in In­dia.

We of­fer a wide range of Ori­en­tal, Mex­i­can and Ja­panese cui­sine apart from ready-toeat prod­ucts, con­fec­tionery and break­fast cat­e­gory range. Our port­fo­lio sup­ports a to­tal of 380 SKUS, which is a com­plete su­per­mar­ket range. — Ni­raj Mu­rarka MD, Maple­leaf Dis­tri­bu­tion Pvt. Ltd.

Chal­lenges to growth

Though the gourmet mar­ket is poised to grow ow­ing to both de­mand and sup­ply forces, there re­mains quite a few im­ped­i­ments in terms of avail­abil­ity of lim­ited prod­uct, seg­ment aware­ness, man­age­ment of shrink­age, wastage and ven­dor man­age­ment for proper prod­uct re­plen­ish­ment, lim­ited prod­uct shelf life and re­stric­tion on im­port, to name a few. Ac­cord­ing to FIFI’S Amit Lo­hani, the ma­jor chal­lenges are high tax­a­tion, clear­ance is­sues at air­ports, and lack of ad­e­quate cold stor­age fa­cil­i­ties. He says that In­dia is still a land of strin­gent food laws, which makes it very dif­fi­cult for in­ter­na­tional man­u­fac­tur­ers to en­ter and sus­tain in the In­dian mar­ket. Var­i­ous min­istries abide by var­i­ous rules and reg­u­la­tions to en­sure en­try and avail­abil­ity of safe prod­ucts for the con­sumers. So while In­dia rep­re­sents an at­trac­tive op­por­tu­nity for im­ported food and drink, for­eign com­pa­nies must take heed of the par­tic­u­lar chal­lenges of the In­dian mar­ket if they are to avoid po­ten­tial pit­falls.

An­other big chal­lenge for for­eign food com­pa­nies is prod­uct place­ment and dis­tri­bu­tion. New brands en­ter­ing the coun­try need the right part­ners in the In­dian mar­ket for dis­tri­bu­tion, fol­lowed by af­ford­able place­ment. With­out the right place­ment it is not pos­si­ble to get started even in the first step of cre­at­ing a mar­ket for the brand. The lack of proper dis­tri­bu­tion chan­nels be­comes all the more glar­ing in cities like Guwa­hati, where there are very few dis­trib­u­tors. An­other ma­jor hur­dle is the un­der­de­vel­oped in­te­grated cold chain frame­work in In­dia. The huge de­mand and sup­ply gap of sup­port in­fra­struc­ture acts as a con­straint in the sup­ply chain of im­ported goods.

Some re­tail­ers also feel that sourc­ing chal­lenges need to be mit­i­gated to spur the growth of im­ported food items, which are in­com­pe­tent at times, and with­out any con­sis­tency. As a re­sult, the end prices of im­ported food prod­ucts (es­pe­cially from Europe or USA) are much higher than its coun­ter­parts in the In­dian mar­ket, which is due to high ocean freights, du­ties, etc. It is also ex­tremely dif­fi­cult for the im­porters to main­tain the shelf life norm as per the rules. This re­sults in pro­longed non-avail­abil­ity of im­ported food prod­ucts in In­dia. Fluc­tu­at­ing ex­change rates also put a huge pres­sure on the prof­itabil­ity of this busi­ness, and prod­ucts go off the shelves due to block­ing of such prod­ucts by the im­porters. The good thing from the con­sumer point of view is that top re­tail­ers have been able to get their act to­gether around many of prob­lems. “We source our gourmet and in­ter­na­tional prod­ucts from both dis­trib­u­tors and im­porters de­pend­ing on the na­ture of the prod­uct, shelf life and through­put. How­ever, the in­ter­est­ing phe­nom­e­non that’s hap­pen­ing in this space is the play of In­dian FMCG com­pa­nies, who are now bring­ing in lots of items into these cat­e­gories,” says Kr­ish­nan of SPAR.

It is ex­pected that go­ing ahead into the fu­ture many in­ter­na­tional man­u­fac­tur­ers will be able to fig­ure out the In­dian mar­ket bet­ter and take their as­so­ci­a­tion with im­porters to more col­lab­o­ra­tive lev­els. “We firmly be­lieve that the phe­nom­e­non of gourmet and in­ter­na­tional foods is go­ing to change and be­come more demo­cratic. We be­lieve that dou­bling growth ev­ery few years should be very doable – across mar­kets – whether tier 1 or tier II,” says a con­fi­dent Kr­ish­nan. All that the stake­hold­ers must re­mem­ber is that the op­por­tu­nity ar­eas in the fu­ture will re­volve around direct sourc­ing, plant­ing lo­cal bases, price bet­ter­ment, in­tro­duc­ing new prod­ucts, and reach­ing the un­tapped mar­kets. If these chal­lenges can be ad­dressed, then the sky is the limit for gourmet and im­ported food. In times to come, it will get even eas­ier to put good-tast­ing, easyto-pre­pare, nu­tri­tious, and in­ter­na­tion­ally in­spired food on the ta­ble.

Some re­tail­ers also feel that sourc­ing chal­lenges need to be mit­i­gated to spur the growth of im­ported food items, which are in­com­pe­tent at times, and with­out any con­sis­tency.

Grow­ing as­pi­ra­tions, glob­al­iza­tion, chang­ing life­styles and growth of or­ga­nized re­tail along with aug­mented pur­chas­ing power of con­sumers are pro­vid­ing im­pe­tus to the gourmet cat­e­gory. — R. Sankara­narayanan VP - Buy­ing & Mer­chan­dis­ing, HYPERCITY Re­tail (In­dia) Ltd.

Wher­ever the IT in­dus­try is present, and where there is a high con­cen­tra­tion of pro­fes­sion­als, the In­ter­na­tional cat­e­gory is pick­ing up. — Amit Lo­hani MD, Max Foods and Con­venor at Fo­rum of In­dian Food Im­porters

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