India keen to tap into the growing appetite for healthier eating options

INDIA – The food and beverage industry in India is seeing a very definite change in the healthy food segment supported by the growing demand for healthy, homestyle food by consumers across cities and towns.

The country has recorded an upsurge in new health and organic food products for various segments as consumers are increasingly looking to eat right – a trend that has seen several new fast moving consumer goods focusing more on healthy food segment.

According to a recent ET Retail report, online food delivery platforms in the country, led by Bigbasket, Swiggy and Zomato, have reported a spike in demand for healthy foods such as organic beverages, herbs, oils, and pulses.

Swiggy revealed its health and organic food category – which includes some of the country’s fastest-growing emerging health-focused brands including Yoga Bar, Whole.Fit, Raw Pressery and Mojo Brand – grew twice as fast as its overall sales last year.

“We are seeing a significant increase in the consumption of healthy food products on the platform including organic foods, cold-pressed oils, millets, baked snacks, and diabetic-friendly foods and sugar-free range,” said Hari Menon, CEO at online grocery retailer BigBasket.

To meet the increasing demand, Swiggy and Zomato said they are doubling down on the health food segment while cloud kitchen operators such as Rebel Foods and Freshmenu have introduced new health brands on their platforms.

Other than traditional food and restaurants menus, the packaged food segment has also seen the launch of dozens of health brands in the recent past from women brands to baby food brands such as Slurrp Farm, Mumum Co and Timos.

While the global health and wellness food market value is anticipated to reach US$798 billion in 2020 and grow beyond US$811 billion in 2021, the APAC region still holds a smaller market share compared to the EMEA and North America.

However, Technavio analysts forecast that the APAC region is expected to witness the highest health and wellness food market growth over the next three years, owing to the growing adoption of natural and organic eating habits by consumers.

Strong positive prospects in this segment has attracted a pool of investors seeking to tap into this ever-growing niche.

ET Retail reports that Bengaluru-based Sproutlife Foods that owns the Yoga Bar range of snack bars and muesli is in talks to raise Rs 50 crore in a round led by SAIF Partners.

In addition, plant-based active nutrition brand Oziva has also been reported to have held discussions with Matrix Partners for raising capital.

The growing digital presence of health and wellness food products is one of the major trends being witnessed in the country’s health and wellness food market and companiesoperating in this market are adopting digital platforms to increase their product sales in different regions.

Vivek Sunder, chief operating officer at Swiggy says that increasing healthy food options to their offerings will help substantially increase the frequency of ordering food “and potentially over time replace home cooks.”

Zomato has a separate section on its app, Zomato Healthy, that curates health food options for consumers with the idea of enabling easier discovery and access to information for users to make informed choices.

Cloud kitchen company FreshMenu has introduced healthy food brand Green Cravings, while Ola runs Khichdi Experiment, Swiggy owns Homely, and Rebel Foods has launched healthy food brand 500 Calorie Project.

Certainly, health is an emerging and an irreversible trend. The increasing preference for organic food products is projected to drive one of the biggest revolution in the food and beverage industry.

While most of these healthy items are priced at a premium, consumers see it as an investment on personal health, thanks to increasing awareness of the perceived benefits of consuming healthy food.

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