By P Rajan Mathews

“Pankaj Mahajan lives in Noida with his dietitian wife – Rohini and two teenaged children Rahul and Rashmi. Pankaj had the habit of buying household groceries in the beginning of every month along with his two children at the nearby Reliance Mart and Big Bazaar stores. Along with the regular detergents and soap, staples, pulses, cooking oil and spices, Pankaj and his two children buy the ready to eat Snacks such as biscuits, wafers, and extruded snacks for the late night snacking of his teenaged children. Pankaj also buys Dairy products such as ice-cream, cheese, butter and packs of milk shakes and lassi and Rashmi who is interested in making desserts buys cake mixes and her regular Maggie and Chings noodles along with hakka noodle packs and their seasonings. Pankaj and his son Rahul who do not have any culinary skills buy some of the new generation products such as ready to cook spice mixes, ready to cook breakfasts and meal products whenever they wanted to try their hand at cooking especially when their cook takes her leave each month.

Just prior to the pandemic lockdown started on 25th April 2020 Pankaj and his children carried out a last minute purchases to stock all their monthly food stocks and favorite ready to eat and cook products. This stocking has lasted them over the extended period and during this extended lockdown they did not have to go out buy any grocery and had to only buy their regular vegetables from Safal and non-veg from the nearby stores. During this Pandemic lockdown his son’s birthday was well celebrated with his daughter making a chocolate cake

for the birthday and Pankaj prepared Hyderabadi Dum Chicken Biryani from the Ready to cook spice mix. Pankaj’s wife who considers herself as a good cook never accepted these ready to cook spice mixes but during the birthday celebrations she appreciated the Hyderabadi Dum Chicken Biryani made by her husband. During this extended Pandemic Lockdown the family has relied more on the new generation of packaged foods as there was no domestic help and all household chores were being done by the house lady it was inevitable that Pankaj and his son had to lend their hand in cooking and cleaning. Thus the family has now become an ardent user of all the new generation food products are look forward for using more of these products after the pandemic lockdown.”

During this Extended Pandemic Lockdown when all are to stay at home, one of the major essential is the Daily Food to be made with no Domestic help or Cooks coming regularly and also prepared food cannot be ordered from the nearby hotels / restaurants and eateries. The consequence of this being that the families and bachelors have to cook for themselves and the load on the house-lady gets more with children and all at home with no domestic help. Its more difficult for the bachelors and the less culinary skilled persons ( more dependent on the outside food ) to prepare food at home and hence they will have to rely more on the Ready to Cook food products, snacks, instant mixes and many processed foods including breakfast cereals and the next generation packaged food products which require less culinary skills. Usually these products are purchased for exigency demands from children or with unexpected guests coming home. If one were to visit the stores today, the shelves of Snacks, ready to cook products such as instant noodles, instant breakfasts, instant meals and heat and eat meals, frozen RTE foods have all disappeared from the retail shelves. Even UHT Milk in Tetra packs which was never touched for the fresh milk have vanished as the consumer now want to use the long life UHT milk.

This will be the best appropriate period that the consumers could have tried and experienced the new age Ready to Cook products and formed a positive opinion which could have fuelled the transformation to these products in the future. Many households who buy such food products for the emergencies / exigencies have to live on these RTE products during the lockdown periods.

Even today when there’s Corona Viral breakout the demand for poultry meat has dropped to dismal levels as a result the wholesale rates of poultry meat touched as low as Rs.40 per kg when the production cost of one kg poultry meat is above Rs.77 per kg. All poultry integrators, poultry processors and farmers have been losing money heavily and this is not a product which can be stored especially during the onset of the hot summer weather. The Poultry Industry failed to travel the last mile and have left the development half way and have made themselves dependent on the Live Bird wholesalers who ensure the poultry majors do not get good prices for the Live Birds which is sold as a commodity. Poultry Industry should have gone the last leg in setting up poultry processing facilities and engaged in reaching processed poultry to the consumers and not Live Birds. Even the in the Fisheries Industry has not developed the last leg and the National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB) has not ensured that there’s enough capacity for the processing of fisheries. In this context the efforts of National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) has to be lauded who not only worked on the increase in milk production but also simultaneously developed the processing facilities and the cold chain for the Dairy products.

Organizations whose product supply chain is affected due to the pandemic shutdown should look at alternate supply chains to reach the consumers. The organization who have already developed an E-commerce and a Distribution and Supply App for the retailers and consumers would be able to reap the benefits during such periods of pandemic lockdowns. Organizations who produce essential products such as milk, meat and other daily food products and organised grocery retailers need to justify their presence in the community by going out of their way to serve the community and these brands will be able to build loyalty even in post pandemic normal times.

Even during the lockdown period with most possible extension and /or gradual / partial lifting of the lockdown these Packaged Food Manufacturers have an opportunity to convert consumers and make them regular buyers and users of their products by ensuring the following:

  1. The movement of these products which are there in their supply chain pipeline to reach the retail outlets in both General Trade and Modern
  2. Any stocks lying at their factories and regional warehouses need to be moved to their destinations on
  3. Production of these products at their factories ensuring with minimum of the labour are utilized and with social
  4. Production of these packaged food products can be ensured to move across to reach the distributors and
  5. Be prepared for the extension or partial lifting of the lockdown as there will a surge in demand due to the vacant shelves at the retail Brands that can reach their goods first will ensure their sales happen without much holding.
  6. There will be a greater surge in demand from the households due to the following.

a. Households will want to store such products for the future. Even households that have never stocked such next generation packaged food will store them for any eventuality.

b. With the usage of these products and formation of positive opinions, household will like to continue usage of these packaged food and beverages

c. Products that have been served to children during this period will find a greater demand due to the children’s persistence and pester

FOOD PRODUCT CATEGORIES & Packaged F & B BRANDS THAT CAN ADVANTAGE FROM THE PANDEMIC LOCKDOWN.

CATEGORY PRODUCTS Major BRANDS
Ready to Cook Snacks Instant noodles & Pasta Maggi, Yippie, Chings, Top Ramen
Indian Breakfast & Snacks MTR, Mother’s Recipe, Suhanaa, Safolla FITTYFIY
Snack Mixes Vegit / MTR Snack mixes.
Plain & Savoury Oats Quaker, Kellogs, Saffola, Bagry’s
Breakfast Cereals & Museli Kellogs, Bagry’s
Ready to Cook Meals Indian Meals – Biryani, lemon rice etc Mother’s Recipe, MTR, Kohinoor
International – noodles and pasta Chings, Delmonte, Weikfield
Ready to Cook Culinary Ingredients Spice Mixes for Indian Curries – Veg & Non-Veg Mother’s Recipe, Suhanaa, MTR, Eastern, Kohinoor
Spice Mixes for S.E Asian Curies Imported Brands
Cooking Pastes– Ginger & Garlic, Green Chilies, Tamarind etc Mother’s Recipe, Hommade, Smith & Jones
Tomato Puree Hommade, EasyCook, Kissan
Coconut Milk Hommade, Maggi
Ready to Eat – Ambient Meals Indian Meals and Curries in Retort packs Kitchens of India, MTR, Mother’s Recipe, Tasty Bites, Kohinoor, Priya, Gits
Ready to Eat – Ambient Dessert and Mixes Indian Sweets and Desserts in Retort packs and Cans Kitchens of India, MTR, Tasty Bites, Haldiram’s, Priya, Gits
Instant Indian Sweet mix and Desserts Gits, Priya, Bambino, Vegit
Ready to Eat – Frozen Meals Indian Meals and Curries in Frozen formats Sumeru, Delicious, Godrej Yummiez, Suguna, Venkys, Buffet
Ready to Eat – Frozen Snacks Veg Snacks in Frozen formats McCains, Godrej Yummiez, Safal, Sumeru
Non-Veg Snacks in Frozen formats Venky’s, Godrej Yummiez, Sumeru, Delicious, ROC, Suguna. IFB Agro Fresh Catch
Ambient Milk and Milk Products Toned and Standardized UHT Milk in Tetra Packs Amul, Mother Dairy, Nandini, Nestle, Britannia.
Flavored Milk and Milk Shakes Amul, Mother Dairy, Cavin’s, Britannia, Hatsun, Parag
Fermented Milk products – Lassi & Buttermilk Amul, Mother Dairy. Britannia
Powdered Beverages Fruit Beverage Tang, Rasna
Traditional Indian Beverages – Shikanji, Aam panna etc Rasna, Jalani

* The Author can be reached at rajanmathews@gmail.com / prmathews@nextfoodbrands.com

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