In an exclusive interview with Progressive Grocer, Food and Drink Analyst at Mintel, Yogmaya Chatterjee talks about the fastest growing meat categories in India, the broad consumption trends for these categories and the potential of the Indian frozen foods market…
Which is the fastest growing category in meats and what are the broad consumption trends for these categories?
Chicken consumption grew the most with India becoming the fourth-fastest growing market for the product in the world. The proportion of households consuming chicken shot up from eight per cent in 1993-94 to 38 per cent in 2011-12, while that of the fish-eating households increased marginally from 30 per cent to 32 per cent over the same period. The proportion of goat-meat/mutton-eaters has fallen significantly — from 30 per cent in 1993-94 to 15 per cent in 2011-12. The population of beef and buffalo meat-eaters has remained more or less constant at about six per cent over this period according to NSSO 2011-12.
Which are the features that consumers strongly identify with when buying meat?
Convenience is at the heart of adoption of processed meat, fish, and poultry products. Time pressed urban consumers are looking for easy to prepare meals, fuelling the demand for processed food products. According to Mintel Market Sizes, Indian organized retail sector is expected to witness a CAGR of 15.6 per cent during 2016-20. To a large section of consumers, freshness is a key criterion, which explains the rise in the private label launches of chilled, cleaned, and processed fish products.
How would you assess the potential of the frozen meat market in India?
A young demographic, rising disposable income and time pressed urban consumers looking for convenient meal solutions without compromising on health aspects will drive the market for the category.
What are the buying and consumption trends for the frozen and fresh category?
According to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD) estimates in 2016, in retail processed fish products, (frozen fish, seafood and seaweed, and also meal centers and ready meals) 57 per cent launches were in the frozen segment while chilled fish products (this includes all packaged fish, seafood and seaweed, which have been further processed in some way. It also includes smoked and salted fish but not plain filleted or portioned products) have also started to emerge with a 26 per cent share in new launches compared to 31 per cent launches in frozen fish and a 1 per cent launch in the chilled fish segment in 2014. Private label launches are gaining momentum and they are likely to gain owing to the strong preference for fresh food consumption.
In meat and poultry products, frozen meat products that include meat patties, kebabs, and meat balls take the greater share of 81 per cent launches in 2016 compared to a 64 per cent share of new launches in 2014. For poultry, in the chilled segment that includes pre marinated chicken and smoked products, new launches have grown from 16 per cent in 2015 to 28 per cent in 2016.
What is the scope for greater value-addition in these product categories?
According to Mintel GNPD, on-pack claims on launches from 2014-16 reveal that after no ‘additives and preservatives’, ease of use and microwavable are emerging as the top claims along with halal. According to the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the growing demand for animal protein is changing the production system radically. This is also making healthy perceptions of meat and poultry products a key challenge. Health risks of factory farming and the power of Internet to quickly spread bad news is creating fear in consumers minds. To address these, chosen poultry products with the claims ammonia and antibiotic-free are being observed. As consumers become more health aware, the demand for more ‘clean label’ products is expected to increase in line with the global trend.
Sourcing information will also be looked at by the health-conscious consumers as it can aid in reiterating healthy perceptions of animal protein. Providing detailed provenance and sourcing information such as on animal breeds offers a rare means for companies to differentiate a product and to look to communicate more effectively. QR coding systems on packaging is also used to track the source of the meat.
In packaging, value addition can happen by aiding on the convenience front. Cook-in-bags in the fish segment, with brands launching cooking bags that promise to seal in flavour and aroma, are gaining popularity. Such products are likely to appeal to young, urban time-pressed consumers who don’t have the time to cook.
How do you see these product categories evolving and growing over the years?
High quality and safe for consumption products will gain importance among consumers, as will innovations centered on aiding convenience. Organic, no additives and preservatives, no hormones and antibiotics based claims are growing globally as consumers become more conscious. High protein snacks that provide a high level of satiety make meat snacks an excellent option to bridge gaps between meals. Animal protein based high-protein snacks will also gain in the times to come.
What role can technology play in making the market more vibrant?
One role that technology has to play is to strengthen the cold chain infrastructure. As majority of the meat, fish and poultry market operates through unorganized retail in India, therefore the cold chain network expansion is critical for the growth of the category. The Global Cold Chain Alliance estimates that the cold storage market in India has been growing at a rate of 25 per cent per year. Opportunities exist for cold chain operators to create or utilize technologies that reduce dependence on the electricity grid. Since the energy infrastructure is lacking, it is an impediment to integrating cold chain capabilities across the supply chain. Technology can also encourage increased use of mobile apps, links to sites, short video links on the back of packs that can educate consumers on quick and easy recipes. It can also be effectively used to educate consumers on the merits of frozen food to address the perceptual barriers that consumers have towards the category.