The bakery industry is one of India’s oldest businesses, which is modernizing and is continually evolving in terms of product range and services. Increasing health concerns, indulgence, and familiarity with premium taste, which has developed among Indian consumers over time, have led Indian manufacturers to experiment with various biscuits and cookies.
India being a country of festivals has a tradition of giving away sweets and chocolates to family and friends, but due to fear of adulteration in sweets, premium cookies have taken the place of sweets. Premium and high-quality cookies as a gifting option were reported as key trends prevalent in big cities due to their long shelf-life compared to sweets.
Based on the product type, the Indian biscuits market has been segregated into categories — cookies, cream biscuits, glucose, and milk biscuits, Marie biscuits, salt crackers biscuits, and others.
Surge in demand
The sudden outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and nationwide lockdown has significantly increased the demand for convenient healthy food items with longer shelf life. Major players in the biscuits’ segments have reported a surge in demand for their products from March to May.
According to Mayank Shah, senior category head of Parle Products, the company has gained a market share of around 5% in the competitive biscuit segment due to the increased consumption of Parle-G biscuits. During the lockdown, people preferred to add Parle-G while stocking the pantry.
“The growth was phenomenal, and as a result, Parle was able to increase its market share by 4.5 to 5% during the lockdown,” Shah added.
Amrinder Singh, director of Ludhiana-based Bonn Group of Industries, also agreed that the demand for the biscuit has gone up during the lockdown. “Biscuit is something which is liked by all the family members irrespective of their age-group. It’s one of the easy and affordable snacking options with tea and any other hot beverages. During the lockdown, people stocked up their homes with an indigenous range of biscuits.”
Shift towards immunity-boosting products
In the past as well, the demand for healthy biscuits has seen a surge due to the active lifestyle of consumers looking for convenient eating options. India has a significant portion of the working-age group, which makes millennials the driving force behind modern consumer trends. “Millennials carefully read nutritional values on packages and grab snacks at least two times a day,” Singh added.
However, due to Covid-19, consumers live on reduced incomes or no incomes. They most likely have restricted consumption to essential purchases, which are affordable and help boost immunity. “Now, people are living differently and buying differently. The shift in consumer behavior and preferences due to the economic impact is going through a big change.”
Seeing this as an opportunity and consumers’ inclination towards healthy and immunity-boosting foods, Bonn Group has launched healthy variants of their product range during the lockdown. He explained, “We have launched herbs and seeds bread with all the essential ingredients to boost immunity like turmeric, black pepper, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, oregano, cumin, and ginger. We have also launched a new range of eggless bar and cupcakes.”
Non-premium biscuit segment to take a lead
Premiumization or personalization were the top trends in the biscuit and cookies segment before the Covid-19 pandemic. However, in the current scenario, these trends have taken a back seat. Singh observed that people are moving away from premium to regular packs due to the fear of recession or income loss. According to him, even the big packs will witness a decline in demand in the coming months as consumers have started moving back to small and economical packs that fall between the range of Rs 5 and Rs 10.
The sales of non-perishable food items, including biscuits, have gone up during the lockdown. People are entirely relying on these packaged and comfort food items as the restaurants are shut, and consumers are skeptical about ordering food online. Biscuits are also easy to afford and give you the required energy to carry on with your task.
The Indian biscuit market is driven by the upsurge in the count of health-conscious consumers. Therefore, the alteration in food consumption patterns and demand for convenience food are expected to propel the market growth, leading the biscuit manufacturing sector to boom in the years to come!