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India Food and Ingredients Market trends: July’17

Dear Industry colleagues,

I am happy to share with you our thoughts on the Indian food and food ingredient market in this 2nd issue of my newsletter. I want to thank those who sent their warm comments on the first newsletter that I sent last month.  We in F1rst, track the food and food ingredient markets in India on a continuous basis, and I will be sharing my observations of this exciting market once a month with you.

Goods and Service tax:  The Goods and service tax has been one of the key things that has caught the attention of the market given its implications on earning of companies. GST, which embodies the principle of “one nation, one tax, one market” is aimed at unifying the country’s $2 trillion economy and 1.3 billion people into a common market. Under GST, goods and services fall under five tax categories: 0 per cent, 5 per cent, 12 per cent, 18 per cent and 28 per cent. The GST in India is expected to simplify and rationalize the current indirect tax regime, eliminate cascading of taxes and put the Indian economy on high-growth trajectory. The GST levy may potentially impact both manufacturing and services sector for the entire value chain of operations such as procurement, manufacturing, distribution, warehousing, sales, and pricing.Taking into account the number of representations received from exporters regarding GST, the Commerce and Industry ministry has planned to release the Reviewed foreign trade policy in September 2017.

India’s agriculture is still largely dependent on the monsoon

An interesting article in The Hindu states that the  monsoon is the lifeblood for India’s farm-dependent USD 2 trillion economy, as at least half the farmlands are rain-fed. The country gets about 70% of annual rainfall in the June-September monsoon season, making it crucial for an estimated 263 million farmers.  About 800 million people live in villages and depend on agriculture, which accounts for about 15% of India’s gross domestic product (GDP) and a failed monsoon can have a rippling effect on the country’s growth and economy.  India witnessed a normal monsoon in 2016 but only after two back-to-back poor monsoons in 2014 and 2015 that affected the overall growth in the country. However, with a good chance of a normal monsoon in 2017, analysts expect the growth momentum to continue.

Reuters lists the impact of the monsoon on specific crops as follows:

    • Rice: Farmers sow paddy at the start of the monsoon in June and the key areas are in the east and south. The crop is heavily dependent on rains for irrigation. An average rainfall will erase any chance of a return of the export ban for the world’s second largest producer of the grain after China.
    • Sugarcane: An average monsoon will help the world’s top sugar producer after Brazil to keep its free export policy on sugar in the new season from 1st October.
    • Others: Corn, lentils, oilseeds and cotton – important crops in western and central India – have some   dependency on the seasonal rains. India remains a net importer of lentils and cooking oils and domestic output can alter overseas purchases. An average rainfall could allow the world’s second biggest producer of cotton continue with its free policy on overseas sale.

India amongst top 5 Asian consumer markets

According to BMI Research, a Fitch group company, China, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, India and Indonesia represent five favourite consumer markets in Asia, offering retailers the strongest consumer spending growth over its forecast period to 2021.  But India has to mend the huge rich-poor divide when it comes to eating habits.  For example, the rich don’t spend too much more on cereals – the top 5% in urban India, spent about 2.2 times the amount spent by the poorest 5% of rural Indians on cereals. But when one goes up the nutrition ladder, one sees the yawning difference between the rich and the poor in terms of what they eat. The richest 5% spend around three-and-a-half times more on pulses than that spent by the poorest 5%. On vegetables, they spend around 3.8 times more. On eggs, fish and meat, the multiple is 14.5 times, on milk products 23.8 times. And on fresh fruits, which are obviously a luxury, they spend 61 times what the poorest 5% spend.

Plant protein ingredients – a short-term hype or a long-term trend?

Within the food industry, protein ingredients are identified as specialty ingredients which perform nutritional and/or technical functions.  Giract, the Swiss business associate of F1rst, has been examining the global markets for protein ingredients over the last few decades.  The recent interest in protein ingredients, with a particular focus on plant proteins (cereal-, pulse- and root-derived), in both developed and developing economies has been motivated by numerous factors – fitness needs, animal health concerns, GM fears, clean label/natural emphasis, etc. Indian in particular has been very positive to this protein ingredient wave. Giract’s just published study shows that the demand for soy proteins has shown a growth of 40-50% in the past 5 years, and the stability of prices has been of the major driving factor for this growth.

Giract’s study also notes that end users in India prefer to use imported soy protein for its perceived higher bioavailability (96-98%), compared to the local product for which bio-availability is said to be only 66-67%.

Massive investments in food e-retail

According to, Amazon will soon get DIPP Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion) approval to invest the proposed USD 500 million in a wholly-owned food retail venture in India, over a five-year period.  Post DIPP approval, Amazon can then stock locally produced food items and sell them online. This will further give impetus to Amazon’s plans of opening food retail stores in India. Earlier, hyperlocal online grocery retailers Bigbasket and Grofers had also applied for approvals under this category. Reportedly, DIPP has received a proposal for a total investment of USD 695 million in the food retail category.  India is thus closely following the trends witnessed in on-line food retail in China.

Coca-Cola’s new avatar in India

Economic Times reports that Coca-Cola plans to introduce frozen desserts in India as the beverages giant looks to expand its portfolio beyond carbonated drinks into fruit-based or other healthier choices.  The new product range, made with fruit chunks, will be sold under the Minute Maid brand and challenge the dominance of Hindustan Unilever and Amul in the INR 10,000 crore ice-cream segment. The company recently announced that it will invest INR 11,000 crore in creating an agriculture-focused ecosystem, food processing units and sourcing that will help it introduce a slew of innovative products in the fruit-based categories within the next five years. The company has a similar product under the Perfect Fruit brand in Australia and is sold by Coca-Cola Amatil.

Thank you once again, for your support and encouragement to our team and your feed-back has been received warmly by our team.  We at F1rst continue to track food and food ingredient market trends in south Asia and provide ingredient and food producers with top-class market research. For example, F1rst is just commencing an interesting review of the Indian starch markets.  Indian ingredient markets covered by us recently include those of protein ingredients, fibres, oils & fats, polyols, savory ingredients, and many others.  We have started the preparation of the 8th Indian Starch Forum, which is scheduled to be held in February 2018.  Work is underway for the Processed Indian Traditional Foods Conference which is to take place in New Delhi on 24th November 2017.  We are also conducting innovation days for different ingredient producers whereby many medium and small food producers are invited by F1rst to join well-organized table-top exhibitions of ingredients.  In short, we at F1rst are striving hard to help you understand the ingredient market trends in India through detailed strategic and operational market reviews and help you with innovative ideas on various ingredient applications through our Table-top Exhibitions.

I will keep in touch with you with useful and exciting information about the Indian food and food ingredient markets as above.  Please contact me at and I will be happy to speak to you about how we can help with your ingredient market strategy.


Bibekananda Chelleng
Plot number A-59, Road number 10,
Opp Bosch Car Service, Wagle Estate,
Thane West, Maharashtra 400604
Contact no : +91-7738057003

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