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FOOD PROCESSING

RTC, alternative to complete home-cooked meals, powered by urbanisation
Thursday, 05 September, 2019, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Brindha Deivendran
Cooking is the biggest challenge faced by today’s generation. In order to overcome that scenario ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook food emerged in the Indian market. It has gained popularity due to the change of lifestyle, increased number of tourism and the change of appetite in and across India. The concept of ready-to-eat food was introduced in India by a Pune-based company called Tasty Bite Eatables in the year 1987.

Initially, the product did not get a good response, but later, as the days went by, it gained utmost importance among contemporary Indian consumers. Ready-to-eat or RTE food products are known as the form of food derived from plants and animals that can be provided to the customer after it is being washed, cooked, freezed and processed. RTE food items are readily cooked and can be taken only after they are heated. Such products are convenient for consumers since they save time and energy and make life much easier. Whereas ready-to- cook food is the vice-versa of ready-to-eat food and cooking is required.

The ready-to-cook (RTC) foods have emerged as an alternative to a complete home-cooked meal. Growing urbanisation, rising income and increasing number of employed women with children and single parent working and moreover a busy lifestyle has powered the ready-to- cook market in the country.

The Indian consumers are looking at effectively utilising their  time and for faster solutions to help prepare food at a faster rate while taking care of their role to bring up the economic conditions of the family.

India ready-to-eat food and ready-to-cook food markets have gradually increased and stood at  $261 million in 2017 and projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of about 16% in the period 2018-2023 to reach about $647 million by the upcoming years roughly predicted by 2023.

The enormous growth in the market is known for the reason because of rising urbanisation, increasing profitable income of middle-class consumers and changing taste preferences of Indian population and Westernisation of the culture must have created a great impact. Moreover, the growing demand for quickly served food and presence of quality having freshness as a main factor and high nutritional content in these foods is further increasing the  growth of India ready-to-eat food and ready-to-cook food markets.

Demand for ready-to-eat food and ready-to-eat food products growth is seen more in metros than urban areas where a lot of working people do not get sufficient time to cook proper, healthy and wholesome meals. On the contrary, longer sustainability and easy availability of ready-to-eat food products is further pushing their demand for more production across the country.

The most popular ready-to-eat items include preparations of paneer, chana masala, rajma masala and pav bhaji. The range of products commonly declared to as RTC include dessert mixes (gulab jamun mix, kheer mix, rasagulla mix, rasamalai mix and much more), snack mixes (rava idly mix, dhokla mix, puttu mix, idly dosa mix, biryani mix) and curry making enablers (gravy mix, masala mix etc.).

Rise in demand for ready-to-eat food products has created interest and a sense of marketing  among many companies to enter this space of ready foods which is to contribute to the enormous growth of the market in the upcoming years. Moreover, to innovative products, shelf life and packaging, while some frozen foods are preferred for single serving, aggressive and speed marketing & promotional strategies that would kickstart the growth in the Indian market.

With a growing population of men and women busy proving themselves at the workplace, convenience has been a big driving force for the ready-to-cook industry in India. And companies are trying for different innovative ways to please the customer who are all  interested in fast and convenient cooking without consuming too much of time.

The most popular ready-to-eat food in India is roughly around 92 items and the most popular ready-to-eat companies are

Britannia Industries Limited: Britannia, stared in 1892, is the largest producer and seller of biscuit products in India. This company is based in Kolkata, West Bengal, and is known as ‘The King of Biscuits.’ The company delivers a wide range of food products like Good Day, Britannia Cracker, Britannia NutriChoice, Britannia Little Hearts, Britannia bread and Britannia fruit-cakes, which are fresh and full of nutrients.

Parle Products: The famous Parle-G, Monaco, Krackjack biscuits and many other confectionery such as Poppins, Melody and Mango Bites are produced by Parle Products, which is one of the largest Indian food  companies.

Hatsun Agro Products Ltd: Since 1970, Hatsun Agro Products Ltd has been a pioneer in promoting dairy products. it is the largest private sector dairy in India. Dairy ingredients are exported to 38 countries. It holds various quality certifications.

Kwality Wall’s: It is famous for its delicious ice creams. Having founded in 1956, the Kwality Wall’s ice cream is now a household name in India. It’s headquarters are in Mumbai and its popular products are Cornetto, Feast, Creamy Delights and Cassatta.

Vadilal Industries Limited: Vadilal is an Indian food processing company. It serves its customers with high quality and best products. The products of this company are ice cream and processed food which satisfies the customers’ need to a great extent.

There are around 23 companies who will produce ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook food around in India. Particularly in RTC there are many top brands whcih are playing a vital role in the Indian market. One such brand, that has tried to bring in new flavours to match the consumer’s need, is MTR - an established company in the fast moving consumer goods market. Indian foods have a very localised and regionalistic flavour and MTR understood this need for the consumers. Operating in almost seven food categories, MTR was the first company which made RTC popular among the Indians.

Even though, there are many advantages in these concepts, there must be a drawback in all the proposed ideas likewise, “The Indian food processing market faces serious problem due to the lack of effective product distribution system.” Also, the elderly population of the country has a negative perception about the nutritional value of packaged RTE products. Such mindset and increased health concern among Indians are affecting consumer behaviour adversely.

(The author is a M Tech scholar at the school of engineering and technology, Jain Deemed- to-be University. She can be contacted at brindhadeivendran7@gmail.com)
 
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