About Processed Indian Traditional Foods (PITF) – Why Should You Attend?

By Meenakumari R

At F1rst, we are committed to addressing PITF’s key issues and aiding in building an understanding of aspects such as processing technologies, ingredient price stability, availability, shelf life, fresh flavours, resources requirement, infrastructure, taxation, innovation, etc. F1rst is happy to announce the 4th International Conference on the “Processed Indian Traditional Foods”, in Bengaluru on 18th October, 2023. The conference will bring together experts from various fields like agriculture, R&D, supply chain, food ingredients, processed food manufacturers, retailers, advertising, policymakers, nutritionists and research scholars from India and around the world to share their knowledge.

Processed Indian Traditional Sweets Market Scenario

Due to their widespread consumption and ingrained cultural significance, traditional Indian sweets have become incredibly well known. According to the adage, “Life without a sweet is no life at all”, both Indians and people around the world have always made room in their diets for sweets. Traditional sweets that have been processed are becoming more popular for a number of reasons, including improved quality and safety, long shelf lives, variety, ease of use and appealing packaging. In this market, a number of players have established their positions by utilising one or more of these factors. Let’s continue discussing snack types, prominent companies and other relevant statistics for this market.

COVID-19 has accelerated the industry’s adoption of digital marketing/delivery platforms, leading to new partnerships with organised retailers. There has also been a considerable shift from open and loose sweets towards packaged variants to mitigate the risk of infection. Moreover, continuous advancements in the packaging technologies for sweets, including biodegradable packaging, nano-fabrication and flexible packaging, should further drive the Indian packaged sweets market in future.

Types of Processed Traditional Sweets

Of the over 8,000 Indian towns, almost all are well known for a regional treat or confection. The varieties of processed traditional sweets are numerous. The market for packaged goods in India, which includes traditional sweets, is estimated to be worth USD 4.2 billion.  Among this, the Indian sweet and candy market is currently valued at around USD 664 million, with sugar confectionery holding a 70% share (USD 461 million), and chocolate confectionery accounting for the remaining (USD 203 million).

The major types of Traditional Indian Sweets are:  

  • Dairy-based sweets such as pedha, burfi, rasgulla, rasamalai, shrikhand, gulab jamun, sandesh, milk payasam, etc.
  • Cereal/Pulse-based sweets such as jalebi, puran poli, laddoo, mysore pak, adhirasam, etc.
  • Nuts-based sweets like kaju katli, chikki, dry fruit candies.
  • Laddoos can be made of varieties of ingredients and named accordingly such as besan, dink or gond, coconut, motichur, boondi, rawa, til, murmura, etc.
  • Fruit/vegetable-based sweets such as gajar ka halwa, coconut barfi, ash gourd candies, honey amla, etc.

Different regions in India have unique preferences in taste and employ skilled personnels to make sweets. Yet, bringing the same regional touch to large-scale production is a major challenge.

Key Market Trends and Drivers

Indian traditional sweets market is valued at USD 6 billion; of these, packaged foods account to USD 4.2 billion. It also contributes 8–10% to the country’s packaged food sector. Traditional sweets dominate the sugar confectionery market in India. The unorganised sector, a crucial part of this market, has the potential to fairly increase the figures.

Haldiram’s, Bikaji and Bikano are some of the major players in the organised sweet industry offering a wide range of packaged sweets. Various types include products that are based on dairy (khoa, burfi, etc.), pulse (moong dal laddoo, mysore pak, etc.), cereal, nuts, fruits, vegetables and chocolates. Product offerings from some organised players in the sweet market include tinned Gulab Jamun, Rosogulla, Mithai, and so on. The segment offers more such opportunities.

Some key trends:

  • Changing consumer demand for new varieties among products.
  • Chocolates like sweets/flavoured sweets are more in demand.
  • Low calories, high protein/fibre/energy-rich products, natural ingredients like nuts rich products stand out as healthy options. Various other healthy options drive the industry.
  • Festivals and seasons drive the market differently and are important to consider in a festival-rich country like India.
  • Most of the organised players are moving to online and e-commerce platforms.

The market for processed traditional foods in India has enormous export potential; the US has put up facilities to cater to NRI and local demands. Large-scale production, quality and safety also play a crucial role in this.  In India, several procedures, including concentration, boiling, drying, extrusion and rolling, can be used to scale up and upgrade unorganised enterprises into organised ones. To create the favoured tastes and flavours, machines that can adapt to such procedures are also necessary, which is a significant difficulty to be addressed for the market to forge ahead.

Author: Meenakumari R, a Research Analyst at F1rst is a post-graduate in Food Technology and Management and skilled in market research, food regulations, food process and product development. Email: meenakumari@firstmr.com