Since past 5- 10 years, India has witnessed several lifestyle changes and naturally all these changes are not favorable for health and well-being of mankind. Therefore gradually there comes a growing awareness about better lifestyle choices where healthy food is an integral part.
Generally speaking, changes in consumer tastes, national, regional, local economic conditions and demographic trends have always affected the F & B industry and determined its offerings. Thus what is happening today is driven by all of the above trends in the society.
Sharing thoughts on the same, Mohit Khattar, MD & CEO, Godrej Nature’s Basket said, “With increasingly sedentary lifestyles and the consequent rise of lifestyle related ailments at one end, and the need to look good and fit at the other end – healthy eating habits and healthy food have slowly been gaining traction.”
Himanshu Sharma, Partner, Green Incredible Foods shared, “People are becoming more health conscious and there is much more information available at their fingertips to make better decisions. Especially people of 30 plus are looking for more healthy and viable food products.”
The desirable shift
Consumers today are willing to pay more for quality, convenience and variety. Well known brands and modern retailer has responded very well to the changing times as they know that consumer is paying very serious attention to product quality and of course that is creating brand loyalty.
The increasing awareness especially amongst youth that dominates the demographics of our country along with the increased propensity to spend has brought about a lifestyle shift. The average youth is conscious about their eating habits which result in them looking good. More Internet penetration also fuels this boom as it is a constant source of knowledge and information with trends going viral in a short span of time.
“The number of people consuming healthy food is increasing at a rapid pace and is also backed by the growth in infrastructure where choices available to consumer across regions is at an all time high,” said, Anun Dhawan, Director Mentor Hospitality Pvt Ltd, master franchise holders of Pita Pit in North & East India.
“It is not something that has happened overnight. This change has been brought about over a period of time with increased awareness and the media playing an important role in the same. The other part has been played by nutritionists and physicians for nudging consumers in the right direction. And finally chains like ours that have made a large assortment of healthy products available for consumers easily,” commented Khattar.
On the other hand, beverages segment is also going through certain changes with different varieties of teas including green, organic and coffee amongst other. The vibrancy in the tea bag category is quite striking by the number of tea brands that have entered the market. A clear example is seen in the green tea segment, which, until a few years ago, was a fashion trend but its consumption is now sweeping the urban markets. Almost every company now has a green tea to offer, in various flavors and pack sizes focusing on customising their offering to the need of the consumer.
Subrata Mukerji, Business Head, Typhoo India said, “Consumers are looking out for no sugar, no fat, herbs and organic elements based food and beverages. Consumer does more research finding a product that fits her taste, lifestyle, format preference and of course pocket.”
Not only this, the inevitable shift to healthy food and beverage is passed by certain parameters where consumer evaluate a product/ brand and make them a differentiator where impeccable quality delivered consistently is non-negotiable.
Creating a healthier menu
Today most of the restaurants in up market suburbs and urban areas have started adding healthy eating options to their menu as they believe that healthy food cooks a healthy business. Even big global chains like McDonald’s and KFC which are known for junk food, have added healthy food options to their menus. Recently, McDonald’s has announced to cut extra calories in their burgers by 10-15 per cent on an average. Today’s retailers and restaurateurs have become aware of this changing trend and are trying to adapt to the same as well.
Meanwhile, retailers are leading the way by moving away from the conventional fried food that they used to sell at their outlets to serving healthy food options. Places like Godrej Nature’s Basket, Twenty Four Seven and five star chains like Taj Hotels and Hyatt have included healthy menus in their offerings. A lot of new players in the market (local) supplying a range of products with a health twist (for e.g. Spreads, sauces, juices etc) that retailers have tied up with creating a win-win situation as retailers have a wider target audience and the average consumer having more choice.
Vicky Ratnani, Celebrity Chef and Culinary Director, F&B Asia said, “Today’s generation is much more focused about how they eat, what they eat and what is the trend and healthy menu is one such trend which is fuelled by these health conscious lovers and thus we are including it in our kitchen.”
Commenting on the same line, Venu Kumar, Nutritionist expalined, “I strongly recommend to change consumers their food choices and replace regular food with more healthy options, like white polished rice be replaced by brown unpolished rice, white sugar by jaggery or honey etc. These changes in their regular food habits lead to much healthier lifestyle.”
However, everybody today talks about creating a healthy menu and eating a healthy food but there is still a huge gap in Indian food service market and these players are unable to get the best of the business from this particular chain. According to experts, we Indians still go by the taste and value for money prices rather than focusing on healthy part of a particular food item.
At the same time, Pita Pit has a different story altogether, adding to the same line Dhawan said, “When we rolled out the first Pita Pit store our target market was the growing population of health and fitness conscious people wherein we expected most of our business from the youth.
Luckily the product has found mass appeal with people of all ages appreciating our made-to-order customised pitas and salads with the salad table ingredients offering enough choice to each customer.”
In another instance, Select CityWalk has partnered with Everstone Capital to run ‘My Square’ malls in which the group has brought several health brands to operate.
Yogeshwar Sharma, COO, Select Citywalk shared, "We have partnered with emerging as well as established brands to give our customers a new age experience. We have also brought brands like Lean Chef in our food court as people are today focusing on healthy food options when they are out looking for something healthy.”
Clearly it is seen cooking right with the right ingredients and retaining maximum nutrition in the dish is the way to healthy food and a healthy business.