The Indian consumer is a force to reckon with. A strong and growing middle class of 360 million, most of them being young, educated, well travelled, living in nuclear families and well aware of the global trends. They are concerned about the quality of their food and they don’t mind spending more on quality food, especially for their kids.
This upward mobility of consumers is also influencing food trends. Imported global food, specialty food like organic food, functional food and other pure forms of food like vegan food are becoming a part of the food habits of most city slickers. But the more heartening thing is that even people in smaller cities are now opting for more protein, specialty grains, healthy options of refined food, condiments, wines and healthy sides. They are more open toward experimenting with a variety of food options not only from other states of India but also from global destinations.
This huge demand from small towns and rural markets has not gone unnoticed. Retailers and marketers realise that the next set of large consumer groups is to be found in rural and semi-urban areas. They have already started taking steps to make inroads in these. markets, which will become major catchments in the next 5–7 years.
I expect the next phase of revolution – in terms of growth – in the food sector to come from tier-II & III cities and rural areas. If the economy has to grow 8-10 per cent, then there is no way that it can happen without investing in these emerging pockets. That is where the future demand will come from.