At the recently held Future Consumer Enterprise Limited event in Mumbai, a panel discussion on how the FMCG and food industry is shaping up and how urbanisation is changing the food culture in India was organised on the sidelines of the event. The panel included industry experts, Neeraj Kakkar, CEO, Hector Beverages (Paper Boat), Varun Berry, MD, Britannia Industry, Ajay Gupta, MD, Capital Foods, (Smith & Jones), S Raghunandan, CEO Jyothy Labs, Santosh Desai, MD & CEO, Future Brands, Devendra Chawla, Group president, Food and FMCG, Future Group and moderated by Rama Bijapurkar.
Gupta started the panel discussion by saying that “Most of the countries where food cultures are strong, multinationals have never grown business but have only come up later with acquisitions, and we at capital foods are just starting a journey of food processing.” He added that Capital Foods is looking forward to making products in India so that they can be pro-active and know what the consumers want.
Berry felt that the same formula applied for their products throughout their networking countries and was the company’s main strength and also weakness. Sometimes the formulas applied work accurately, while at times they fail too. He feels the Indian companies do a better job in understanding consumers in India as compared to the off-shore ones.
The panel discussed various aspects of the FMCG sector and the Food Industry in general and some of the important insights included:
· Big food companies try to understand the culture of a market as food in itself is a culture and the brands reach out to their audiences through stories on advertisements
· MNC’s have helped shape up the future of Indian markets with good brands entering the markets since early 2000’s.
· People are experimenting with food and mixing cultures with their food. Food is becoming a way of expression.
· In the last 10 to 15 years a lot of companies have grown and evolved at a higher pace because the distribution has become far simpler than it was in the past.
· The packaged juice market is worth 7000 – 8000 crore out of which 80% is controlled by only one flavour—Mango and the rest 20% belongs to the other flavours. Maaza actually started this product 30 to 40 years back and it is the single largest juice brand in India and owned by a multinational.
· Biscuits are an easy category to develop on. There are some interesting categories like noodles, which are being developed unlike biscuits and bakeries.
· Innovations happen on streets and homes. Innovation happens locally and these small players are real innovators in the food sector. That is where the trends begin.
· Today the youth don’t need brands to develop self-esteem. There was a time when there were no Indian brands around to boost their self-esteem or to relate internationally, but today the youth are a lot more confident.