‘Huge growth potential’: India’s ProV Foods seeks to combine affordability and health benefits to gain snack market share
India’s snacks industry is worth close to $8 billion, yet the healthy snacks segment makes up less than 10% of the overall market.
Headquartered in Mumbai, ProV Foods is one of the fastest-growing healthy snacks brands in the country, with more than 100 products across six sub brands that cater to varied consumer demands and purchasing power.
The firm recently announced its partnership with FMCG industry veteran KS Narayanan and celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor, an icon in the Indian food scene, to establish a stronger foothold in the healthy snacks space.
Nearly all dried fruit products in India are imported. ProV Foods source high-quality almonds, walnuts, raisins and pistachios from growers across the globe, while its products are processed in its own plant.
“We are not dependent on middlemen and importers, as we deal directly with growers associations worldwide. Most of the production are done in-house — from primary processes such as deshelling, to secondary processes like creation of flavours and trail mixes. Before they are launched, the products are finalised at international flavour houses. All of these play a key role in ensuring consistency in our product quality,” Shalin Khanna, co-founder of ProV Foods, told FoodNavigator-Asia.
ProV Food’s product lines range from snacks for daily consumption to those that fulfil culinary purposes. The company is particularly excited about its sub brand ProV Minis, which roll out 18-gram snack packs for pick-and-go needs.
“Snacks priced between 5 and 20 Indian rupees contribute to 85 to 90% of the local snacks industry. The ProV Minis range offers consumers an incentive to switch from unhealthy snacks such as chips to heathier high-value options like nuts and seeds.
“From a production standpoint, it is also more cost-effective. For example, almonds and other nuts that are cracked into pieces during processing can be made into the 18-gram packs. There is less wastage and higher gross margin, while consumers can get a variety of flavours at a lower price,” explained Narayanan.
Major shifts in India’s healthy snacking sector
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indian population has become noticeably health-conscious. “More people are trying to move away from junk food. Among 10 occasions where they eat a snack, there will be one or two times where they choose a healthier alternative,” said Khanna.
At the same time, the healthy snacking industry in India is experiencing a significant transition from an unorganised sector to an organised one.
“Currently, large amounts of dried fruits, seeds, berries and nuts are being sold loosely from a jar at a local grocery store. Only 10% of that is organised, so there is still a lot of growth potential to tap into,” he added.
Adopting a ‘physical-first’ approach, ProV Foods products are stocked at ‘almost every modern trade store’ in India, which make up 75% of its sales. The firm intends to eventually achieve a 60-to-40 ratio for its physical store and e-commerce sales respectively.
“In our first year of business, our sales figure was shy of $6 million. After nearly three years, we have reached almost $25 million of sales today. And we are looking at a goal of $100 million in three years’ time,” revealed Khanna.
In spite of its ambitions, ProV Foods will be focusing on its huge domestic market for ‘at least the next four years’. Nevertheless, the brand has identified the Middle East as the first region it would export to when the time is ripe.
Crave for local
ProV Foods has several plans on the drawing board, including clearer segmentation of its products (such as raw, roasted, coated and seasoned) and wider applications of nuts as an ingredient (such as in snack bars).
“Unlike other countries, the prevalence of nut allergy is very low, so there are many nut-based products that can be made and introduced. Globally, there is a lot of talk about plant-based proteins, and we want to push for nut proteins to be more widely accepted.
“An increasing number of Indian consumers are looking for products with a local spin. We have seen international brands trying to make a dent in the market, but are unable to truly satiate the palate of the masses,” said Khanna.
According to Khanna, products like wasabi peas and mixes with crisp rice cereals appeal only to the affluent class, and most Indians still prefer local flavours. This is something that ProV Foods is planning to capitalise on.
“Since we are based here, we can better deliver solutions suited for consumers’ needs. This is the main factor that differentiates us and other domestic brands from foreign firms. Chef Kapoor, with his wealth of culinary knowledge and understanding of local flavours, will also help bring our product innovations to the next level,” Narayanan added.