Category Watch: Frozen Food
Companies are emphasizing their health-andwellness innovations, and adding flavor and variety to their products.
The frozen foods market in India has been clocking a double digit growth in recent years and this pace of growth is likely to continue in the future. Though the infrastructural limitation of cold chain poses a formidable challenge in an already space-starved retail place, the change in our lifestyle, work environment and food habits are acting as drivers for pushing the acceptance and demand for frozen foods. Research suggests that consumers appreciate the variety, taste, ingredient quality, and dietary options of today’s frozen meals. On the manufacturer side, companies are emphasizing their health-and-wellness innovations: trans-fat reduction or elimination, saturated fat reduction, introduction of products with whole grains and fiber, sugar and sodium reduction, and portion control, besides also adding to the flavor and variety of their frozen food products.
India’s frozen food market is believed to be pegged at about USD 485.7 million currently, extrapolating from various studies and industry estimates. As per one such estimate, the Indian frozen food market had total revenues of $335.2 million in 2014, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14% between 2010 and 2014. One industry forecast suggests that the frozen food industry in India is projected to grow at a CAGR of over 16% to reach $ 754 million by 2023.
A Techsci Research report, “India Frozen Food Market By Product Type, By Organized Vs Unorganized, Competition Forecast and Opportunities, 2011 - 2021”, says that India’s frozen food market is projected to grow at a CAGR of around 15%, during 2016-2021, on account of an increasing number of modern retail chains, rising number of refrigeration facilities in small retail shops and rural households, rapid development of fast food chains, aggressive marketing strategies by major frozen food manufacturers, and longer shelf life and easy availability of frozen food products. Another report, “India Frozen Food Market Outlook, 2021”, says that the frozen food market of India has been growing at a CAGR of 15-20% in the last four years.
According to Shankar R Nair – National Category Manager – Frozen and Dairy, SPAR Hypermarkets, “The frozen category in India has been recording a healthy growth at a CAGR of 20-25% thanks to increasing customer appetite and acceptance for frozen foods complemented by an increase
in the available freezer space in the retail domain. A deeper analysis of the industry reveals that the market for frozen food has the potential to grow three-fold over the next five years. However, there are certain constraints limiting its growth such as infrastructure, which calls for a massive investment in transportation (cold chain) and storage required to serve modern retail and the food service segment.”
The market is segregated into six segments: frozen vegetables, frozen snacks, frozen seafood, frozen poultry, frozen red meat and others. Frozen snacks and vegetables are the largest category in terms of sales volume whereas frozen poultry, seafood and red meat have started gaining in currency in recent years. Not until long ago, the frozen food industry in India was limited to only basic frozen vegetables and French fries. Even today, though India is the second-largest producer of vegetables and contributes about 14% of the total world production of vegetables, only 2% of the entire production of vegetables is frozen.
As per industry estimates, the frozen vegetables market constitutes 31% of the total frozen food market and this share is anticipated to increase further. The category is expected to grow at a CAGR of 17.65% over the next six years due to changed lifestyle, year round availability and price stability of frozen vegetables. The demand for frozen vegetables is increasing in the country as Tier-i and Tier-ii cities are aware of the brands and products. The number of working women has increased in these cities, which is generating greater demand for such ready-to-eat products. Restaurants have also started perceiving frozen vegetables as a good alternative that obviates the need for more labor and effort required in using fresh vegetables. Quick service restaurants have also contributed significantly to the demand for frozen vegetables. Green peas are the most popular frozen processed vegetable, produced and purchased in India, followed by mixed green vegetables and corn.
Solitaire Drugs and Pharma Pvt. Ltd (Food and Beverage Division) is one of leading manufacturers and exporters of frozen vegetables, frozen fruits, frozen ready to cook, pulps, jams, pickles, among other products today. The company has three popular brands under its banner – I-freeze, Snacky’s and Shagun. “The company started its operations in 2014 and supplies its products to Cash and Carry stores, institutions, modern trade and general trade. I believe all these markets play a significant role in building a brand. We are also into private label and the target consumers for our products include housewives, school and college students and working people in the 18-45 age group. Our products are also preferred for parties and small gatherings,” says Avnish Kumar Jain, Chairman cum Managing Director, Solitaire Drugs and Pharma Pvt. Ltd (Food and Beverage Division). “Our vision is to be the preferred first choice supplier for all our customers’ requirements and our mission is to attain market leadership in our business areas by creating customer delight through value, innovation, and service. We are growing rapidly in north India and our target is to expand pan- India. Soon, we will be starting operations in south India and then will expand to other markets,” says its Executive Director, Sulabh Jain.
Until about a few years ago, frozen food players were largely dependent on the export market, which helped them earn a large part of their revenues. However, with the growing importance and penetration of frozen food in the commercial and retail sector, the domestic market has also turned out to be lucrative now. Take the case of Farsan Foods India, a leader in traditional Indian savory snacks – samosas, spring rolls, kachoris, patties, tikis, veg burgers, bhajis, among others – which has set up its factory in India now to produce quality hand-made frozen snacks for the Indian market. The company is originally based out of Leicester, UK, but has opened a new factory in Halol, Gujarat. “We make authentic quality products at an affordable price besides also supplying to the
The frozen category in India has been recording a healthy growth at a CAGR of 20-25% thanks to increasing customer appetite and acceptance for frozen foods complemented by an increase in the available freezer space in the retail domain. — Shankar R Nair National Category Manager – Frozen and Dairy, SPAR Hypermarkets
markets in the European Union and North America. With our base in Leicester, UK, investing in India seems to have happened at the right time for my food exporting company. We also support local vegetable producers by acquiring their fresh produce for our export food products,” says Nainesh Patel, Owner, Farsan Foods.
Today, quick service restaurants, fast food chains, hotels and cafes, not only in the metros but even in Tier-ii and TIER-III cities, are gearing up to offer their customers the finest in food along with ambience. Hence, they have started using frozen food to serve their orders quickly and efficiently without any hassles. There are three end users of the Indian frozen food industry: retail consumers, commercial businesses and exports. With the growing acceptance and popularity of frozen food in the F&B sector and along with the growth and boom of the foodservice industry in India, there is also a high demand for companies that specialize in providing turnkey tube ice plants, industrial refrigeration equipment and slurry ice machines.
One such provider of products and services is Icelings, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of Tube Ice plants with installations in over 20 countries. Over the past decade, the company has grown from strength to strength and has successfully installed the world’s largest ice plant for one of the largest gold mining company in South Africa to the smallest of ice vendors in a town in Zimbabwe. “We are a leading manufacturer, supplier & exporter of Tube Ice manufacturing plants, cooling systems and industrial refrigeration plants. We mass manufacture highquality, industrial grade ice production equipment. Our clientele includes mostly mid-to-large scale food, beverage, pharmaceutical, and hospitality enterprises. Keeping specific customer requirements in mind, we custom design each plant. Our range is from 1 tonne to over 125 tonnes of ice production per day. We are a trusted source of benchmarked quality products and customer-centric services,” says Rustom Irani, Managing Director & Owner, Icelings.
For retailers, frozen remains a niche category even though consumer acceptance and receptivity to frozen is rising appreciably. “It is tough to comment on the contribution of this category to the overall food business as this category is niche and is slowly taking a share of the regular snacking options available currently. Frozen increases the average basket value as compared to the regular snacking options available in the category,” opines SPAR’S Nair.
We are a leading manufacturer, supplier & exporter of Tube Ice manufacturing plants, cooling systems and industrial refrigeration plants. Our clientele includes mostly midto-large scale food, beverage, pharmaceutical, and hospitality enterprises. — Rustom Irani Managing Director & Owner, Icelings
Growing acceptance and popularity of frozen
Today, busy lifestyles along with rapid economic development and a growing urban population are influencing consumers to shift their dietary preferences towards ready-to-eat food products. As a result, India’s food market is projected to double in size in the coming few years. The processed food market, therefore, has witnessed the entry of many brands offering a variety of products across different processed food categories. “The concept of frozen and readytoeat- food products is new to the Indian market. However, the market for frozen food is gradually expanding. The number of companies introducing their products in this segment is increasing by the day with players like Amul, ITC and Godrej introducing new products and variety in the market. So, frozen and ready-to-eat food products have a very good potential in the coming future,” says Amit Bajaj, Managing Director, Vezlay Foods Pvt. Ltd. Among all the food categories, frozen convenience food is expected to be the latest trend in Indian processed food market.
Frozen foods have some real benefits that go beyond convenience. Freezing means less waste, which is a sad fate of a large percentage of all food produced in India. Whether it’s home cooks freezing excess ingredients for their own for use at a later time, or relying on frozen produce or fruit in order to avoid having things go bad in the fridge, freezing is very helpful. Consider, too, how much less waste is generated by cooking a frozen meal in a single container or bag, compared to the waste that accompanies most takeout meals – styrofoam or plastic containers, disposable cutlery, condiment packages, paper napkins, and plastic bags. Also, the retail sector is growing with a strong compounded annual growth rate in recent years. The frozen food market is expected to grow due to the growing consumer demand and also on account of many new players and brands entering the industry. These new players are
bringing in new varieties of products to fulfill the consumer demand For instance, Vezlay Foods Pvt. Ltd is widely acknowledged for its innovation on soya and for providing nutritious and delicious vegetarian foods in a hygienic and cost-effective manner. “Vezlay Foods is involved in the manufacturing of exclusively soya-based diversified healthy food products that are rich in proteins and vitamins. The taste and texture of Vezlay products are very close to non-veg, which is the reason Vezlay is widely accepted by both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food lovers. Vezlay has a vast range of products and recipes, suitable to all demographics and culture. Health-conscious customers and those who love experimenting with their recipes and maintain uniqueness in their kitchen love our Vezlay products. We also have vegan-friendly products for our vegan customers. Further, the company is focusing on the niche market and Horeca industry. Vezlay food products are very user friendly and can be used for creating unique recipes. That’s why these products are widely accepted by Horeca,” says Amit Bajaj of Vezlay Foods.
“The frozen food market is dominated by organized players like Mother Dairy, which stands out with a 50% market share in the vegetables segment as a result of the widespread popularity of its flagship Safal brand that has now entered the potato snacking segment with their fries and other value-added snacks. The other key brands in the market are Venky’s, Mccain, Yummies, Innovative Foods (Sumeru), Al Kabeer and Meatzza. The fries segment has seen value addition with Sumeru innovating in the segment with flavored spice mixes of piri-piri, chilli garlic and chicken masala and its healthy paratha range comprising turmeric/ beetroot/spinach paratha – which have become
Vezlay Foods manufactures soya-based products that are rich in proteins and vitamins. The taste and texture is close to non-veg. — Amit Bajaj Managing Director, Vezlay Foods Pvt. Ltd
popular among young consumers – apart from the conventional paratha range. Among the new brands that are innovative and aspire to change the perception of the frozen category are Chevon with their highprotein goat meat assortment like Mumbai baida roti, mutton nuggets, mutton samosas, etc, which not only have become popular among loyal category consumers but also bring new product additions to the category,” informs SPAR’S Nair.
Chevon is an integrated frozen food company with a range of products in the goat meat segment and two brands in the retail space. The premium ‘Chevon’ brand is targeted at the Sec A & B segments and distributed mainly through modern retail stores. The other ‘Kuzo’ brand is for the mass market and is distributed primarily through the general trade network and mass category modern retail stores. Similarly, in the food service space, it has two categories of offerings – premium and standard – to suit customers’ requirements. “Goat meat has immense nutritional value and is a healthier and tastier form of meat as compared to other red or white meats. It is recommended by nutritionists from around the world and goat meat’s recognition as a superfood has further consolidated Chevon’s leadership position in the market. In the West, goat meat is recognized as a healthier meat than chicken, mutton, lamb, pork, etc, and is termed as a superfood. We believe India is a market of markets and each of these markets needs product regionalization and our product strategy reflects the same. The Indian goat meat market is an INR 50,000 crore current opportunity and is growing healthily,” says Chandrakant K, Head-sales & Marketing, Chevon Agrotech Private Limited.
Chevon soon plans to enter the Middle-eastern and Southeast Asian markets and capitalise on the vast opportunities in these geographies for premium frozen foods, while further expanding its product line and distribution for the Indian market by targeting the top 100 cities. “With a smaller base compared to the overall market and in view of the significant demand for our products, we will grow multifold over the next few years. Chevon is making a significant impact in the retail industry by offering various innovative products. However, currently our objective is to set up a robust distribution network across the country so that we can make our innovative products available to consumers,” discloses Chandrakant.
Apart from Chevon which, as a leader in the frozen goat meat products segment, has been advocating the various health benefits of goat meat, players like Cambay Tiger of Westcoast Group, Empire Foods, Carnivore and Ruchi have helped bring in lots of exciting and innovative frozen food products in the
Goat meat has immense nutritional value and is a healthier and tastier form of meat as compared to other red or white meats. It is recommended by nutritionists from around the world and goat meat’s recognition as a superfood has further consolidated Chevon’s leadership position in the market.
— Chandrakant K Head-sales & Marketing, Chevon Agrotech Pvt. Ltd
market – frozen fish/seafood, meat products, potato products, pizza, ready meals, among others. Empire Foods, a division of Empire Industries Limited, is one of the fastest growing companies in the food industry. “We have two divisions – imports and distribution and exports. We are the leading importer and exporter of quality seafood products in India. We import basa, salmon, smoked salmon, lamb, pork, duck, Chilean seabass, black cod, tuna saku, tilapia, caviar, truffle and some other rare products from all over the globe. In exports, we grow and process premium vannamei shrimps from the eastern coast of India and sell it to the entire world. We supply products to the Horeca segment, five star hotels, four star hotels and other leading caterers of the country. Our customer list includes top brands across India encompassing the Horeca market, retail outlets and many more. We are the leader in the Horeca segment for most of our products. Our consumers are not restricted to any particular age group. We import the best products that are not available in India and they are consumed by everyone,” says Yogesh Grover, Founder & Director, Empire Foods.
The company is focusing on growing its exports division and further strengthening its presence in the major markets, which include the USA, Canada, Europe, Japan, Australia, Vietnam and the Middle East. As far as imports are concerned, it is looking to introduce poultry products from the US besides also working to expand the distribution of local seafood available in India like tilapia, mahi mahi, and other products. It has also launched four new brands for prawns and shrimps – Mister Shrimp, Aroma of Seafood, The Blue House, and Ocean King. “The
Our customer list includes top brands across India encompassing the HORECA market, retail outlets and many more. — Yogesh Grover Founder & Director, Empire Foods
market size is about INR 300 crore and we have a 40 per cent share of the market. We are the market leader and there is a huge gap between us and our competitors,” reveals Grover.
One brand to have created a niche in the meat market is Carnivore with its specialization in seekh kebabs. “If you look at statistics, most seekh kebabs are sold through the unorganized meat trade and only a meager 1-2% is sold via the organized sector. In Delhi alone, we see a sale of 14-15 tonnes of seekh kebabs in the retail segment on a daily basis. About 95% of the market share is captured by the unorganized sector. My products are of premium quality and sell for Rs. 10-15 more than the price of the product in the local meat market. My customers are those looking for a better quality and also those who were looking to pay less than what they would usually pay to a big brand. I am now selling 19 tonnes of meat products most of which is kebabs and my target is to produce 60-70 tonnes a month, reveals Anil Sawhney, Proprietor, Carnivore.
The company has a diverse range of flavors which have been received well by customers across the country. “My kebabs come in 10 different flavors, and this worked to my advantage. Overall, I have a total of 48 products. My flavors cater to regional tastes and also to different age brackets keeping in mind their spice preferences and the need for added seasoning. Aware of the success of flavors such as lime and pudina in potato chips, I introduced these flavors in my meat products as well. I also noticed a market need for kebabs with a milder spice quotient to cater to foreign nationals and children. I also noticed how the different regions in India flavor their meat. For example, Nawabi meat is flavored with a combination of 27 herbs and meat made in Punjab is often smoked in a tandoor. I brought in these innovations to my products,” shares Sawhney, adding that frozen products occupy only 5 per cent of the entire meat trade. “Most products are sold chilled and there is often a lack of proper temperature control systems to maintain an optimum environment for chilled products.”
Another brand with a wide array of meat and other products in the frozen segment is Frozit, a sister concern of Ruchi – a popular spice brand in Odisha – owned by Om Oil And Flour Mills Ltd. The Frozit brand produces and distributes ready-to-eat food such as Odia podapitha, chicken biryani, mutton biryani, mutton dum biryani, lachha paratha and bengan bharta, lachha paratha and dal, lachha paratha and dum aloo, lachha paratha and chana masala, lachha paratha and mughlai chicken, paneer butter masala, paneer tikka, chicken champ, chicken lollipop, chicken tikka, pasta mushroom, rajma and chawal, yellow dal tadka, malai kabab, tangdi kabab, raw banana kabab, hariyali kabab, chicken drumsticks, egg fried rice and chilli chicken, mixed fried rice, jeera rice and bengan masala, ghee rice and mutton kasa, among others.
“The company has its own state-of-art megakitchen. All the utensils/equipment are sanitized
My customers are those looking for a better quality and also those who are looking to pay less than what they would usually pay to a big brand. I am now selling 19 tonnes of meat products, most of which is kebabs, and my target is to produce 60-70 tonnes a month. — Anil Sawhney Proprietor, Carnivore
before usage. All the vessels are of stainless steel food grade material. The kitchens have expert cooks and are managed by trained supervisors. Critical Control Points (CCPS) like cooking temperature are checked to ensure the best quality of the food. To ensure that good food quality is maintained, quality check is done by the Quality Control Lab. We have our own sophisticated quality control methods that ensure that every ingredient maintains its quality and safety through all processing stages and that the finished products are packaged and stored safely. Our lab tests include microbiological tests, chemical tests, spoilage indicators and nutritional tests to ensure the quality and safety of our foods,” says Rashmi Sahoo, Director, Om Oil And Flour Mills Ltd.
In the seafood domain, Cambay Tiger is a leading brand across the country. “We are among the pioneers to introduce the frozen concept in seafood. We fly in Atlantic Salmon from Norway to ensure sushi quality fresh fish. We are the only ones in the industry doing Modified Atmospheric Packaging (MAP) for our products, which ensures freshness at the kitchen level. We are one of the only companies in the country to market fish reared in self-owned farms. Our stores have live fish tanks for customers to come and choose their fish,” informs Shivam Gupta, Directorwestcoast Group & Ceo-cambay Tiger.
The brand’s frozen food products are distributed across 15 cities to its channel partners and include farm raised as well as imported seafood. Recently, it launched a wide ready-to-cook range as well as new innovations such as frozen pizza and hot pockets.”
We ensure that ingredients maintain their quality and safety at each processing stage. — Rashmi Sahoo Director, Om Oil And Flour Mills Ltd
We are present across Modern Trade, General Trade as well as direct to consumer channels. And we have been growing all channels quite rapidly. At present, our aim is to consolidate our presence in metros such as Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Pune, Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad. We aim to penetrate into smaller towns surrounding the metros with our frozen products as and when modern retail with infrastructure like freezers enters,” adds Gupta, while disclosing that that its frozen foods business has been growing at 35% Y-O-Y. “We are planning an aggressive 60% growth in this fiscal. The frozen foods business has been historically linked with the growth of retail stores and sometimes this is a bit limiting. So we are starting to see a lot more growth coming in from our new direct to customer model.”
Health and wellness trends in frozen
Everything is shaped by people’s eating habits, and right now we’re in the midst of an obsession with health, wellness, and clean eating. In line with this increasing health-consciousness, food companies in the frozen category too are offering simpler, healthier, and more flavorful options. The convenience of items in the frozen foods category, coupled with the introduction of more natural and organic frozen offerings, has weakened consumers’ association between “frozen” and “unhealthy.” Frozen foods can also claim some nutritional and environmental advantages over fresher fare. Frozen foods are often flash frozen after harvest or preparation, locking in nutrients that fresh foods gradually lose in the time it takes to reach a grocery store or kitchen. And concerns about preservatives and other ingredients have been lessened by the assumption that if products are natural or organic, they must be more nutritious.
Mindful of the growing concerns about health and hygiene issues, Icelings has introduced India’s first branded packaged ice created from treated water. It is made from mineral quality water that has undergone extensive multistage purification process, including micron filtration and reverse osmosis as per IS 10500:2012 standards. The product is zero bacteria and the ice tubes are untouched by human hands throughout the manufacturing process and packaged in special food grade LDPE bags. “We are the largest producer of ‘The Premium Packaged Ice’. Our 250 tonnes per day capacity plant in Mumbai offers pure quality and hygienic ice and is certified by FSSAI, AIPIM and IPIA. The product currently sells in Mumbai, Pune, Jaipur and we are looking to expand pan-india,” says Rustom Irani, pointing out that ice made from unsafe water can have a range of toxic effects. The company is looking for a franchise partner to join them in creating an ice revolution in the country and work on a pan-india level.
“A health-conscious person knows the difference between unsafe tap water and branded bottled water. The same is true of impure ice and packaged ice made of purified water. Remember, ice is food and just as you take care to consume good quality, safe and hygienic food and water, so should you when consuming ice. As a health conscious person, make sure that the ice you mix in drinks, tea or coffee is made of pure water. As a doting parent, make doubly sure that your children are consuming safe and pure ice. Icelings’ pure ice is perfect for celebrating parties, get togethers, birthdays or even big functions, ” adds Irani who feels that there exists a great opportunity to distribute premium quality packaged ice in India. “We are committed to support retailers on various online and offline media platforms for brand promotions throughout the year.
The company started its operations in 2014 and supplies its products to Cash and Carry stores, institutions, modern trade and general trade. I believe all these markets play a significant role in building a brand. — Avnish Kumar Jain Chairman cum Managing Director, Solitaire Drugs & Pharma Pvt. Ltd (Food and Beverage Division)