Ankush at large
Food producers: Stop thinking India is a monolith
This country has almost 30 states. In Europe, this make-up could easily equate to 30 different countries, such is the geographical and demographic size of each state, as well as their cultural differences. Our states are diverse in their food habits even to the point of great variance within each state.
They have their own recipes, cook using different ingredients and eat differently. The diversity in the foods naturally available as well as religion, weather and culture has meant that culinary ways are diverse and rich.
For example, the variety of rice grown and eaten by people in the southern state of Kerala differs greatly from what is consumed in the northern state of Punjab. It is cooked differently too.
Similarly, while its true that Hindu consumers in the state of Haryana will not touch a beef product, a lot of the Hindus in Kerala will consume beef as an integral part of their diet.
But now, partly due to the destruction of much of India’s biodiversity, there has been a trend to colour India’s culinary habits with one stroke. In this way, many food makers are giving Indian consumers single, one-size-fits all food offerings.
A good example of this is french fry makers who don’t realise that a vast segment of the mid-western states will not touch anything made out of potato. Another is how mint is the favored flavour up north for homemade potato chips, whereas some chip makers seem to believe the globally liked ready salted product will do just fine there.
This is the very reason why I have often written about one trend that is fast developing, albeit stealthily.
It is how next wave of growth in India’s food industry—as well as the biggest challenge for multinational food makers—will come from one major source: the burgeoning regional players coming through smalltown India.
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Posted by Ashish,