The future of frozen food lies in innovation and product differentiation
Mithun Appaiah CEO, Innovative Foods Ltd.
Players in the frozen food business see a very strong opportunity in the category but the future lies in making the right innovation and product differentiation. We, at Sumeru, are at the forefront of bringing about this change, and are committed to offering the most innovative and differentiated product range – some of them being the first of its kind – to our customers in India. The Sumeru nonveg French fries is the first of its kind product in India. We also are the highest selling parantha brand with product extensions into methi, turmeric, ajwain, beetroot and multigrain parantha. We have recently launched chicken rolls and paneer rolls, which are new innovations that break away from the traditional potato- and -chicken players. Our kebab range has been curated by celebrity chef and Master Chef judge Ajay Chopra and is a testimony to our capability to quickly innovate and launch products. Sumeru will introduce some more outrageously innovative products into the frozen market to dazzle consumer imagination and taste buds.
Consumers in India are beginning to see freezing as a way to preserve food with fewer negatives. It is becoming a major reason to buy frozen foods, in addition to convenience factor, which was the biggest motivator before. In Europe and North America, there is a significant increase in consumer preference for healthy frozen foods and it is a major trend in those markets. In India, there remains some vestiges of an old mental block that “frozen is not healthy”. The misconception about frozen food being not healthy will eventually decrease in the coming years as a big chunk of marketing budgets of market leaders will be utilized for educating the consumers.
Even in the developing Asian countries, frozen food has seen a steady growth in recent years. This growth is mostly driven by an increase in the disposable incomes, more number of women joining the workforce, changing food habits and lifestyle changes and a significant increase in the number of large retail chains, including hypermarkets and supermarkets.
In India, too, there has been an increase in the sale of frozen vegetables, fruits, meals, etc, with strong health claims including the highlighting of nutrients and advanced techniques like “quick freeze”, etc. However, the frozen market is mostly passive today with few or no innovation, barring a few exceptions. Many challenger brands are spending more of their time and energy in R&D to create innovative products to attract eyeballs and to provide consumers with more choice.
Players in the frozen food business see a very strong opportunity in the category but the future lies in making the right innovation and product differentiation.