On the back of changing consumer sentiments pointing increasing demand for frozen food consumptions and the industry witnessing tailwinds with increasing demand for a range of frozen foods categories and encouragement from the government, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) today held a day-long conclave on ‘Refrigerated and Frozen Foods – Challenges and Opportunities’.
Speaking at the event, Kashmira Mewawala, chairman, CII Maharashtra State Council & head – business development & chief ethics counselor, Tata Capital informed that earlier the frozen food industry in India was only limited to ice cream, basic frozen vegetables like peas and French fries. With the increasing number of nuclear families, the kitchen is the single most key driver in consumption in the retail space. On the back of ease in availability of frozen foods in Tier-II markets, and expanding cold chain infrastructure, the industry will only grow further, she remarked. “An increase in demand for frozen foods in India is also for the fact that these products are available round the year, irrespective of the season. The market is largely dominated by select major brands and some regional player. According to the Indian Frozen Foods Market Overview 2016-2022 published by the Research and Markets, the retail frozen food market is close to 24-26 per cent of the overall frozen food market and is expected to continue its growth trajectory in the forecast period also. The Indian Frozen Foods market has reached a value of around 74 billion in 2018. The market is further projected to reach an annual INR 188 bn by 2024, expected at a CAGR rate of around 17 per cent during 2019-24,” she said.
The global frozen food industry was estimated to be valued at US$219.9 bn in 2018. The interesting fact is that it is growing at 5-6 per cent but is pegged around 5.1 per cent CAGR growth. As per sources, Arabind Das, convenor, CII Maharashtra State Panel on Rural-Urban Connect & former COO, Godrej Tyson Foods said, Indian frozen foods industry reached a value of US$ 1 bn in 2017 and CAGR growth of 18.5 per cent. The market is expected to grow at CAGR of 17 per cent as estimated. Frozen vegetable snacks capture the highest market sales sitting at 39 per cent, followed by 36 per cent of total meat products of 36 per cent and fruits and vegetables at 25 per cent, he informed. “Consumers are ready to accept frozen foods provided they are seeing the value in the frozen food. The entire awareness programme of usage and handling of frozen foods is crucial. Various state governments including Gujarat, Maharashtra and Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, and Odisha offering Capex incentives on frozen food processing industries. Recent trends in the segment are the consumers are demanding more innovation; streamlined meal preparation and reduced efforts in meal preparation with enough flexibility. Products like frozen desserts, pizzas, biryani, and cold cuts are gaining momentum in demand. Cold chain infrastructure has played an important role in driving the frozen food market as it helps to transport at both domestic and international levels. Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MOFPI) has sanctioned 286 projects till 31 December, 2018. Under the scheme of the cold chain, value addition and preservation infrastructure to provide integrated cold chain preservation infrastructure facilities. Under the frozen foods segment, the fruits & vegetables category has witnessed close to 52 per cent investment, followed by 26 percent in dairy and 13 per cent in fisheries,” explained Das.
Pankaj Mehta, MD, Carrier Transicold, India & South Asia, in his address at the conclave highlighted that, changing sentiments of consumers across verticals of industries, the millennials are showing a shift in the demand, just like they do not want to own a car but rely on cab aggregators, and hence the notion of owning an asset is slowly diminishing. Likely, the need for the kitchen in houses isn’t the need of the modern-day citizen of India, with the culture of eating out or home-delivered food spreading exceptionally. “Food opportunity is huge”, he feels. “Cold chain, we categorise it mainly into frozen and chilled products. Cold chain has evolved really over years now. Nobody talks about incentivising ice-cream cold chains. As our condition changes, the products need to. The challenges associated here is when we talk about the cold chain, most of the time we talk about cold storage. We do not talk about transportation, connectivity or change in packaging. The product packaging, say, coming from Nashik to Mumbai is not the same if it has to travel from Nashik to Punjab. The second challenge is our country has high ambient heat, for which, cold chain faces its problems here because the existing infrastructure in the country is not designed for chilled products. It’s not designed to carry fruits and vegetables. We have 20,000 reefer trucks in the country – from -25 degrees to 25 degrees. There lies the opportunity. All the cold chain happens by roads, we need to explore the other means of transport including railways and waterways. There are multimodal terminal coming in Varanasi, this gets in the right way, to get the cold chain working. Furthermore, last mile or secondary distribution, the cold chain is almost non-existent. Today, everybody wants real-time data of their products, which is the only way that there is no wastage and transparency. Data used sensibly can be an enabler. We need to think cold chain and not cold storage,” Mehta added.
B Thiagarajan, MD, Blue Star noted that regulation of single-usage plastic used for frozen food products packaging will only become stringent with time keeping in mind the sustainability aspect. The opportunities that it will throw open is, there will be many sunrise industries using alternative packaging materials, he opined. The air conditioning refrigeration industry is indeed putting pressure on how non-conventional cooling will be going ahead, but the regulations here too will be stringent. Small equipment is coming into the refrigeration segment fast. “We need to work diligently toward using power judiciously. Food processing industry has a significant role in employment opportunities, so we should take pride in the fact that we build the nation in that aspect. The government should look into incentivising the industry,” he underscored.
Dr Pallavi Darade, commissioner, Food and Drug Administration, Government of Maharashtra, said Indian frozen foods industry has reached to a whopping number of Rs 74 bn in 2018. The CAGR would be around 17 per cent and projected to grow at Rs 188 bn by 2024. “What I believe is India being the global food basket we need to strengthen the strategies towards managing, the product integrity which is important and to align with the emerging regulatory trends across the globe. With the rising consumer awareness about frozen foods among consumers, the demand has gone significantly northwards. As a regulator, I believe that the entire food value chain is a concern for food safety. Consumer safety is a prime and shared responsibility. The regulation and food business operators need to gain the trust of the consumer. Refrigeration facilities and inadequate infrastructure in the rural region have been existent. Registration and licensing is the basic thing businesses need to consider. Another adherence is to the Food Safety Management System (FSMS) laid down by FSSAI. It is about the practices that need to be followed in the manufacturing, storing, packaging and distribution, in the complete supply chain. Guidelines are there for frozen foods as well. Microbiological specifications of fruits and vegetables categories including fresh, processed, preserved, dried, frozen products, etc. and sampling plan and test method have also been specified. Coming to the subject of frozen foods, the opportunities are endless basis the points aforementioned are adhered to. The Clean Street Food Hub is a scheme launched by FSSAI throughout the country. We worked for more than six months with the vendors at the street food hubs at Girgaum Chowpatty in Mumbai. We trained them, upgraded their products and the things they need to check on labelling aspects on the products they are using. The disposal of waste was another aspect we focussed on. It had all the standards that were mentioned in the Food Safety Act. We are also talking to a lot of restauranteurs to mention the calorific value of the dish to help and notion the patrons to eat thoughtfully,” Dr Darade concluded.