India’s Future Food Trends: Turning Local Flair Into Global Fare

Joe Raedle via Getty Images
Joe Raedle via Getty Images

As a South Asian dietician based in New York City, my job requires me to counsel and educate clients in a global fashion. I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with the Indian population over the last several years, as I’ve split my time between India and New York. My heritage, my time in India, and my experience as a dietician makes me particularly well-suited to evaluate the consumer retail market with respect to food products.

Whenever I travel to India, I seem to pack an entire suitcase full of food and condiments. Like most people, I’m used to my standard condiments and snacks that I can’t find abroad — everything from yogurt to peanut butter has to make the trip with me. I like knowing my favourite items will be readily available and not outrageously expensive — not to mention the comfort I get from knowing the quality of the products. Despite this, I always wish that I could easily find the same items at grocery stores in India. It would make life a lot easier for when I travel.

The desire to have access to these country-specific products locally is exploding. The Indian market for these products — also known as “fast moving consumer goods” (FMCG) — is expected to grow from $30 billion in 2011 to $74 billion by 2018. That makes FMCGs the fourth largest sector with food products as the leading segment. The demand for these products is undeniable.

According to an article from, “One area that we see global and local FMCG brands investing more in is health and wellness. Health and wellness is a mega trend shaping consumer preferences and shopping habits. FMCG brands are listening. Leading global and Indian food and beverage brands have embraced this trend and are focused on creating new emerging brands in health and wellness.”

After my most recent visit to India, I started taking note of all the products I wanted that were missing from the shelves of local retail chains like Reliance Fresh, Big Bazaar, Nature’s Basket and Hypercity. Below is a list consumer goods that I predict would fly off the shelves in India.

Greek Yogurt: As noted in a previous Healthy Living article, Greek yogurt has gone from 1% of the yogurt market in 2007 to 36% in 2013, with the potential to reach around 50% of the market share in the US.

So why not India?

Greek Yogurt is an excellent source of protein and calcium. Many Indians follow a vegetarian lifestyle so additional sources of protein are highly coveted. Greek yogurt is an excellent breakfast item, a quick snack option or even a savvy dessert inclusion. In the United States, brands such as Fage, Chobani, Oikos and Siggi’s are very popular. It would be great to see the emergence this product locally.

Condiments: According to Ibis World, the U.S. seasoning, sauce and condiment production industry has a projected revenue of $19 billion (2009-2014). As the population of health-conscious citizens increases, the desire to cook and plan ahead for food will as well. A solid line of local condiments would be an essential addition to retail store shelves. Imagine a sandwich with mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard or BBQ sauce made from locally sourced, non-GMO ingredients (GMOs are genetically modified organisms and unfortunately unless a brand specifies, most products have some form). The US brand, Sir Kensington’s, is doing a great job offering a non-GMO classic recipe made with cage-free eggs and safflower oil.

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Nut butters & bars: When KIND Snacks was introduced, they were capitalising on American eating preferences. According to a Fortune article, “A decade ago energy and nutrition bars were largely considered a specialty product purchased only by dieters or athletes. Today, a new type of consumer looking for healthy and easy-to-eat snacks has emerged. Portable bars that purport to be healthy and filling fulfill a growing need. Roughly 27 million more Americans ate bars in 2013 than in 2003.”

In India, cashews are the top imported nut source according to a Business Standard article. Additionally, India is the third leading country in cashew kernel consumption. A local version of KIND Snack bars would be a strategic introduction to the portable snack market. The popularity of such snack bars will grow due to the food preferences of local consumers. The snack bars are vegetarian friendly, rich in protein and also include dried fruit (a popular household staple).

Vinegars: There are a variety of health benefits associated with vinegars including antioxidant properties, blood sugar stabilisation and cardiovascular protection. When in a time crunch, adding red and white wine vinegar to a recipe provides a big flavour boost. Given the presence of vineyards in India, sourcing wine is not as difficult as one would think. Imagine locally produced Sula wine vinegars for delicious homemade and healthy recipes!

Consumer goods are growing in terms of product offerings and innovation. In today’s wired world, people can access anything they want with just a few clicks. That’s why it’s more important than ever for people to be able to access their own local products anywhere they are in the world. In my opinion, there is no reason why a country like India cannot have high-quality, non-GMO, health-friendly products that are all created locally. Given the number of travellers frequenting India and the US, the retailers that jump on these products now will be on the cutting edge of this emerging trend.

[This article was previously posted in Huffington post on March 9, 2015]

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