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India is a nation renowned for its diverse culture, tradition and, of course, food. As its population continues to rise, dominated by a large urban consumer market with evolving trends, they are spending a large proportion of their income on food consumption.
The market’s food and beverage industry is among the most vibrant industries with unprecedented growth in recent years and continues to expand rapidly. With an estimated annual growth of more than seven percent from 2019 to 2024, it is spurred on by changing consumer demographics, increasing disposable incomes, urbanization and growth of organized retail.
Let us examine the major food trends driving the food and beverage industry in India.
Indian consumers are becoming more health-conscious and better educated particularly when it comes to understanding food labels.
One area undergoing a major shift is the use of sugar replacers. However, substituting the properties of sucrose is a challenging task as each food product and process is unique. Besides sweetness, sugar also contributes to many functional properties like bulkiness, binding, texture and shelf-life.
With the global sugar substitutes market valued at more than USD 13 billion, which continues to grow by more than four percent annually until 2024, food producers and ingredient suppliers are taking steps to meet this demand. For instance, DKSH in meeting this growing trend for sugar replacers in India has assembled various functional ingredients to replace sugar while maintaining the same taste and function provided by sucrose.
The use of natural ingredients like Stevia and monk fruit is also on the rise: Stevia’s RebA extracts are 200 to 400 times sweeter than sucrose while monk fruit extracts are 150 to 200 times sweeter. Both sweeteners provide a clean sweetness profile with fewer bitter after taste and they are also more stable at different processing temperatures and pH conditions.
By combining these with ingredients such as polyols, fibers, flavors, bitterness maskers and hydrocolloids, we can equalize the sucrose equivalence levels to match with all the functional properties.
The following are some examples of the ingredients used and their respective applications:
Fibers are not only important for gut health but also help to lower cholesterol levels, control blood sugar level and aid in weight management along with few functionalities. Although whole foods give us plenty of good fibers, our current lifestyle makes it difficult to meet the daily intake required.
Recent research showed that more than half of consumers worldwide are now trying to increase fiber intake in their food. Fortifying food with fiber is a good option as it does not require changes in existing food patterns, habits or individual compliance and can be introduced quickly.
DKSH’s portfolio of fiber includes functional beta glucan fiber, soluble corn fiber (prebiotic benefits, increases calcium absorption, reduces calories) and prebiotic polydextrose (calorie reduction, fiber enrichment).
The following are some examples of their applications:
There is increased awareness, both globally and in India, for high-protein food products particularly towards products that combine all sources of protein for weight loss. The global protein ingredients market exceeded USD 38 billion in 2019 and is anticipated to grow more than nine percent annually until 2027.
Protein ingredients are perceived as a healthy source of various amino acids that are not produced by the human body or are concentrated in muscle. The trend of plant proteins is also growing in India.
DKSH's portfolio of whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate can act as egg replacers because of their emulsifying and foaming activity. They can be incorporated based on the functionality and the protein content which varies from 50 to 80 percent.
Caseinates which are highly nutritious and have good emulsifying and foaming activity are incorporated into various dairy-based applications to strengthen the proteins present in food products. Meanwhile, the isolates of soy protein which are dispersible in water and with significantly fewer off-notes remain a perfect addition to nutritional supplements and other high-protein applications.
Here are some applications available in the market:
While the above three are the key trends taking shape in India, it is worth noting several other trends that are also helping to transform the food and beverage industry. Among them include the use of probiotics and prebiotics in food, fat reduction, preference for natural and chemical-free additives, gluten-free, lactose-free and clean label ingredients.
As consumers lean towards a more health-conscious lifestyle, are more aware of food ingredients and seek a balance between health and indulgence, food makers in India and around the world need to be on their toes to meet these current food trends.
If you find yourself wanting to know more about these trends or how you can manufacture innovative products to meet these fast-growing consumer demands, do drop me a note.
Bhavlal Borse is General Manager for Food and Beverage Ingredients at DKSH India. Bhavlal is a Food Technologist with over 20 years’ experience in the food industry focusing on techno-commercial roles like product management, marketing, sourcing, sales and business development. He has varied experience in handling and demonstrating technical expertise in product categories like vitamins and vitamin premixes, flavors, fibres, nutraceuticals, bakery ingredients, dairy products, dairy Ingredients, hydrocolloids, preservatives and starches.