You are on page 1of 3

Thewayforwardforreadytoeatproducts

Monday,21December,2015,08:00AM[IST]
RajanMathew
Morethan200yearsago,Franceinstituteda12,000francs(aroundRs1.4lakhtoday)prizeforanyonewhocouldfindawayto
preservefood.Thepurposewasmilitarysoldiersrequiredanassuredsupplyoffoodandnutritiontowinwarsindistant
territories.In1810,15yearsaftertheprizewasannounced,NicolasAppertfoundaway,bycookingfoodinaglassjarandsealing
itwithacork.ButAppert,achef,didnotknowthereasonwhythefoodhecannedstayedfreshformonths.
Fromgrandmotherspicklesandsaltedandsundriedfishtothemilkthatcomesintetrapacksandstaysfreshformonthswithout
refrigeration,packagedandprocessedfoodhascomealongway,meetingthemoderndaydemandforhasslefreeinstantfood.
Evenfreshvegetableslikegreenpeasorcauliflower,onceavailableonlyinthewinter,arenowavailableroundtheyear,ifonlyata
higherprice.
InIndia,foodprocessingisestimatedtobea$121130billion(aroundRs7.58trillion)industry,drivenbythedairysector(35%)
andmarineandpoultry(32%),accordingtoareportbyConfederationofIndianIndustry.Also,inIndia,only2%offruitsand
vegetablesareprocessedasagainst65%intheUS.
However,offseasonconsumptionoffreshfruitsandvegetablesisrisingtheexoticlettuceavailableduringtheDelhisummermost
likelycamefromthehillsofOotyinTamilNadu,thebeansandcapsicumsfromHimachalPradesh,andtheshinyappleslikely
travelledcontinentsfromtheUS,withoutlosingtheirsheenorjuiciness.
Oncesuchfoodprocessingtechnologiesaredeveloped,retortprocessedfoodsthatdonotneedrehydrationorpreparation,maybe
consumedstraightfromthepouchwithorwhilenotprewarming,relyinguponthenecessityoftheusersandthereforethe
weather.Thesefoodsmeettheparticularwantsofconvenience,organicprocessadequacy,ambientstorageanddistributiontothe
centresandshelfstabilityhavemadetheseextremelysuccessfulandmostsuitedtoIndiancuisines.Henceanumberoftasty
Indiandishesinretortpouchesenableconsumerstoenjoytheirfavouritefoodssuchassoojihalwa,upma,andchickencurry.The
useofretortingtechnologyhasthuscreatedthesaleofreadytoeatfoodstuffcommerciallyviablewithinvoguefoodstyles.
ThepioneerforthedevelopmentofRTEinIndiahasbeentheDefenceFoodResearchLaboratory(DFRL),Mysore,whichwas
establishedonDecember28,1961,underDefenceResearchandDevelopmentOrganisation(DRDO)tofulfiltheneedsofvaried
foodsofIndianArmy,Navy,AirForceandparamilitaryforces.Theiraimistodesignandengineerlightweightconvenientpacked
foodwithlongershelflifeundervaryingclimaticconditionsusingtheselfdevelopedtechnologies,DRFLhasproducedmany
readytoeat,quickcookingandinstantfoodswithlongershelflife.Someofthemarelongkeepingchapatis(shelflifesixmonths),
highproteinsnacks(shelflifeninemonths),spicedpotatoparothas(sixmonths),fruitbars(ninemonths),muttonpickle(six
months),stabilisedchikki(oneyear).
Todayretortprocessingisthemostacceptableformoffoodpreservation.Thesearereadytoeatfoodproductswhichrequirejust
warminginamicrowaveovenorwaterbathbeforeeating.
Packagingofthisfoodshouldwithstandthermalprocessing.Retortpouchistheflexiblelaminatedfoodpackagehavinglight
weight.Itmaintainstheshelflife,textureandnutritivevalueoffrozenfood.Duringwar,soldierscaneasilycarrythesepackages.
Sotheyareverypopular.
Theselectionofpackingmaterialofretortpouchesisveryimportant.Itshouldhavehighmeltingpoint,physicalstrength,protect
againstlightdegradation,moisturechanges,microbialinvasionandoxygeningress.Itshouldresistpenetrationoffats,oilsand
otherfoodcomponents.Packingmaterialshouldnotcontaminatethefoodinside.JapanandEuropeancountriesuseamultilayer
polyesterwith720micronthicknessaluminiumfoiland75micronthicknesspolypropyleneforretortpouches.Buttheyarevery
expensiveforourcountry.DFRLbyitsresearchtriedpolypropylene(PP)andcoextrudedmaterialofpolypropylenenylon
polypropylene(PPNylonPP).Thispackagingstructureisnowsuccessfullyusedinthepackagingofmeat,vegetablecurries,rice
withmeatandvegetables,sweethalwa,beansinsauce,andsoon.
Thereadytoeatcategorywascommerciallyfirstintroducedtothecountryin1987,butsufferedaslowbeginningwithconsumers
preferringtraditionalcooking.Duringthisperiodandtilllate90s,TastyBiteswastheonlybrandofRTEavailableintheIndian
market.Duetolackofacceptance,TastyBiteshadtobewithdrawnfromtheIndianmarketsandisnowavailableonlyinexport
markets.Bytheturnofthemillennium,andtheadventofnewtechnologiestoimprovetheshelflifeofreadytoeatproducts,
alongsideagrowthinstorageanddistributioncentres,andlifestylechangesthesegmentgainedmomentum.
Withthedevelopmentofretorttechnology,andincreaseddifferentiationamongreadytoeatplayers,theheatandeatsegment
brokeawaytobecomeamarketinitsownright.
TheRTE/heatandeatmarketcurrentlyvaluedatRs240croreandhasbeengrowingatarateof18%overthelastthreeyears
andoverthenextfiveyears,thoughitsrisewillreach22%perannumasaresultofrapidurbanisation,increasingdisposable
incomeandexpectedimprovementinretailinfrastructure,touchingoverRs640croreby2019.
RTEfoodsarecurrentlydominatedbyITC,MTRFoods,KohinoorFoods,Gits,MothersRecipeandTastyBiteEatables.
ITCandMTRtogethercontributetojustunderhalfofthemarketshare,whiletheotherplayersmakeup45%ofthetotal
productionofheatandeatfood.OtherplayersinthecategoryincludeADFFoods,PriyaFoodsandHeinz,whicharerelativelynew
entrantsinthemarketwithlimitedproductlinesandhavearegionalpresence.
ThecategoryislargelyexportdrivenasitisyettoestablishafirmfootingintheIndianretailmarket.However,domesticmarkets
constitute40%ofthetotalrevenuesofheatandeatproducts.Salesmostlyoccurinurbanareas,especiallyinTierIcities,where
retailinfrastructureissignificantlydeveloped.

EventhoughretortprocessingisthebestandthemostacceptableformoffoodpreservationforIndiancuisineandfoodswithout
anypreservativeandinitsnaturalformyettheacceptancelevelsintheIndianmarketcanbetermedasverypoortoaverage
only.TodayRTEisboughtonlybybachelormenorworkingsinglewomenandworkingcouplesonlyandthattooforuseattimesof
emergencywheretheydonotwanttocookorhaveunexpectedguests/visitors.Itisneverboughtbyfamilieswithchildreneven
wherebothparentsareworking.Itisaknownfactthatwhenfamiliesdonotcookfoodathome,theygooutforeatingmostly.
Todaywithmostfoodserviceoutletshavingtheirownfreedeliveryandthegrowingfooddeliverychannelsandwebsitesforhome
deliveryofrestaurantfoodfamiliesresorttoorderingofrestaurantfoodathomewhentheyarenotcooking.HenceRTEhasto
competeprimarilywiththefreehomedeliveredrestaurantfoodintermsoffreshness,tasteandvalueformoney.
RTEfoodsuffersthefollowingmajormisconceptionsinthemindsoftheaverageIndianconsumerswhicharethechallengesthat
needtobeaddressedbytheindustry:
ThemostsurprisingthingaboutRTEisthattheIndianconsumerhasnotbeenpreparedfortheproductandhencemostof
thesaleshavebeenintheexportmarketThehousewifetilldatehasnotbeenwillingtoacceptacompletelyprepared
producttofeedthefamilyduetoapprehensionsofreducingherroleasthefamilysproviderRTEfoodscontain
preservativesNotnutritionalincomparisontofreshfoodRTEdoesnothaveenoughvalueformoneyMostRTEisroutine
foodsuchasdal,sambhar,andpalakandisnotanoveltySomenoveltyproductsintroducedbyITCwerepricedveryhigh
Availabilityislimitedmajorlyinmodernformatstores.
TypeofOutlets%

Chemist0%

Grocers39%

PanPlus1%

FoodStores10%

ModernFormatStores51%

ThepenetrationofRTEtilldatehasbeenverylowintooutletsandhouseholds.

TotalNumberofOutletsforRTE28561(Source:NielsenData)

%PenetrationofRTECategoryinA(Assumption:Universeof

CategoryOutlets13%Outletsis2,22,330)

TotalNumberofRTEunitssold6319200(Source:NielsenData)

%PenetrationofRTEinSecA1,A2(Source:IRSDataforA1,A2

Householdspermonth2%householdstownwise)

SocialChangesdrivingtheRTETrendinIndia
TheRTEfoodcategoryhasatremendousgrowthopportunityinthenearfutureduetoagrowingnumberofnuclearfamilies.The
FederalHomeMinistryhasrecentlyreleasedthefinalfiguresofthefirstphaseofCensus2011knownasHouseListingandHousing

censusinNewDelhi.ThedatastatesthatIndiaisnowoverwhelminglymadeupofnuclearfamiliesadramaticchangefromjust
agenerationago,wherejointfamilieswerethenorm.Seventypercentofthehouseholdsconsistofonlyonecouple.

Increasedurbanisation
ThereisanincreasingpopulationofIndianwomenthathasneitherthetimenortheknowledgetocooktraditionalmealsona
regularbasis.Indianshavebecomemoreexperimentalwiththeirfoodanddrinkchoicesasthereisneedforvariety.

Growingpracticeofsingleslivingawayfromhomeforeducationorwork

MRPofRTE(ValuepropositionofRTE):TodayaSingleServepackcostsRs65toRs75whereasthesamedishtobeorderedfroma
nearbyqualityrestaurantcostsaroundRs130.Fewyearsback,peoplewouldbeleastinterestedinstockingupRTEathomeas
theycouldjustwalkacrosstheroad,findarestaurantandordermeals.Howevernowthatpeopleworklatenightsatofficeand
returnhomeatatimewhenrestaurantsareclosedRTEseemstobethebestoption.

ChangeinMindset:
Fromamindsetwherehomecookedandfreshfoodwaspreferredandhousewivesinsistedonmakingeverythingfromsnacksto
multicoursemealsinhouse,todayithasbecomecommonplacetoseekconvenienceandvarietyusingthevastmenuofreadyto
eatfoodsavailable.44%Indiansadmittedtonothavingmuchtimetocook,while23%feltreadymealswereaffordable(Source:
Euromonitor,January2013)

Foodasconvenienceandnovelty:Thevarietyofreadytocookandreadytoeatfoodisgrowing,thushelpingthehousewifeinher
questfornovelty.Thuswithincreasingworkingwomansegment,increasingworkandstudycommitments,decliningculinaryskills,
therisingneedforconvenience,andsurgingdisposableincomes,alongwithcleverandinnovativemarketingwillallleadtoa
higherdemandforheatandeatproducts.

(TheauthorisVP,sales&marketing,fooddivision,DesaiBrothersLtd(MothersRecipe).Hecanbereachedat
rajanmathews@gmail.com)