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India's consumerism boom! Market to double in 5 years

Last updated on: May 19, 2011 13:22 IST

India's consumerism boom! Market to double in 5 years

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The Indian consumer market for high-end food products is set to double to 200 million people in the coming five years, given the ambitiously driven entrepreneurship of Indian businessmen in developing new food-based opportunities.

"We expect the middle-class Indian consumer market to double over the five years from the current 100 million out of the 1.2 billion population and as such, we are positioning ourselves to serve them well before that," said Declan MacFadden, the president of Symrise Asia Pacific Ltd, a German group manufacturing and marketing food flavours and fragrances in the region.

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Image: Image used only for representational purposes.

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"Based on these consumer insights, they create new prototypes to fulfill these consumer needs and work in close collaboration with their customers to help bring these products to the market," he said.

Symrise produces all flavors for the Indian market from its Chennai factory.

"We have been in Chennai since 1994 and our business has grown by double digits annually, which shows the strong consumer demand," he said.

He specifically highlighted Symrise's 'taste enhancement' molecules, which would help to maintain the consistent taste of seasonal fruits such as weather-prone mangoes.

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Image: Jason Reed /Reuters

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MacFadden continued, "The Indian market is also reacting to the need for more healthy and nutritious foods in response to the strong rise in obesity and subsequent increase in diabetes in the population.

"Many food manufacturers are looking at reducing sugar, salt, fat, etc, in their products and Symrise works with these companies to make these healthy alternatives taste as good, or even better, than the original product.

MacFadden, a regular on the Indian market circuit since 1984, said, "There is willpower in the country's private sector and we see them taking up all opportunities in the Indian market."

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Image: Company website.

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However, MacFadden called for more government-supported initiatives in controlling food wastages, especially from farmer to consumer.

"We hear and see some 40-50 per cent of the harvested food being wasted, all due to lack of proper transportation and logistics chains. This is one area that requires the urgent attention of all," he said.

He expressed concern about the continuing infrastructure deficit in India and urged that more should be done by officials in laying out infrastructure for ensuring every piece of fresh food reaches the poor, the biggest segment of the Indian market.

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Photographs: Issei Kato/Reuters
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MacFadden said he believed the technologies and retail market management systems from more developed countries would be available for India to help control food wastage.

He noted that cold storage chains and large scale professional retail groups were now emerging in the market and that this would lead to an explosion of new processed foods and beverages being launched in this market over the coming years.

India would remain one of the major sources of food for global markets, given that agricultural land in other emerging economies is shrinking due to increasing urbanisation and industrialisation demand.

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Processing and packaging technologies are already being used by Indian food industry and the microbiological contamination from traditionally sun drying has been eliminated significantly, he noted.

The Indian food sector is fortunate to have a reasonably clean slate in food production compared to other Asian countries, where food production and processing have been traumatically hit by major contamination scandals, said MacFadden.

"This is an area where India must be continuously vigilant, as it will allow the country to lead the global market in food supplies," he stressed.

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Photographs: Reuters
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However, MacFadden was concerned about the inflation rate in India.

"If more food can reach the consumer, the level of inflation would be much controlled, making it affordable for the lower level of consumers," he said.

The next big venture for the Indian market would be to set up food quality controls as manufacturing and processing industries develop.

"As for now, there is insufficient quality control in the earlier parts of the supply chain, but we can expect the Indian authorities to introduce measures, given the potential of increasing the high quality food exports to the global market," he said.

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MacFadden saw Indian foods further expanding into global markets as international consumer tastes for Indian foods were increasing, just as more and more middle-income Indians were taking to Japanese, Chinese and other ethnic foods.

"Given the right management and infrastructure, such as cold chain logistics, we can see India growing into a major food market as well as a global supplier," he said.

"These are the many opportunities we see to stay ahead of competition in India and to always aspire to provide a lead in managing the future needs of consumers in these markets," said MacFadden.

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Symrise experts, including those based in Chennai, are constantly studying market opportunities, survey trends in large and small markets.

"We have to keep our data on market needs ahead of demand if we are to serve our customers well," he said.

Symrise is already serving India's large food companies by providing both domestic consumer studies and global expertise to help develop the consumer-desired products.

"We provide our expertise to price attractive packages, be it a small tea bag or a 'two rupee snack package' for the low-income, as well as higher-end processed food for the

rapidly increasing middle-income consumer," stressed the Asian head of Symrise, the supplier of flavours and fragrances with a global market share of 11 per cent last year.


Photographs: Reuters
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