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.
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.”
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