In the nineties and before, the concept of packaged food for most of us was limited to biscuits; whether as a quick snack or with the evening tea, biscuits were the item of choice. Today, in India, if you visit a modern food mart, you are in for a shock- you will get tired even before you can go through half the packaged items.
India has seen a revolution in the packaged food sector, with market sources estimating a yearly business value of over Rs.2 Lakh crores! A long list of packaged food brands in India fights daily to grab your attention.
What are packaged foods?
India has come a long way from biscuits; items that comprise the ever-expanding segment are:
- Bakery items
- Snacks (Including namkeens)
- Diet snacks
- Dairy products (Lassi / Flavoured milk / Ice-cream and more)
- Processed food (Canned / Frozen)
- Ready–to–Eat Meals
- Health Products (Juices/health supplements)
- Extension products like Spices, Beverages, and Grocery items
Packaged Food: Some of the Best Brands in India
The Best Packaged Food brands in India: An insight
The representative sample of brands is based on category leadership. Most are multi-product brands with a presence in several segments.
Segment: Dairy Products
Amul began its journey from Anand in Gujarat and is a global model of a successful cooperative movement. Besides being a top milk producer globally, Amul is a preferred brand for packaged food products. From ready-to-drink milk to butter and cheese, Curd, Lassi, Ice- cream, and many more dairy-based items, ready-to-eat food, Amul is a national bestseller. Known for its extensive distribution and innovative promotional campaigns, Amul is among India's top packaged food brands.
2. MOTHER DAIRY
Mother Dairy is a subsidiary of NDDB (National Dairy Development Board). The brand is a leader in packaged milk retail across India. Several other dairy products of Mother dairy, like Dahi, Paneer, and Ice-cream, are also leaders in many markets.
The company operates other business segments like Fruits and Vegetables, Edible Oil, Frozen Vegetables, Pulses, Processed Food, Juices, and more, besides milk products.
It isn't easy to find someone who has never tasted a Britannia biscuit! This century-old company (founded in 1832) was the primary producer of branded biscuits in India for a long time. Milk bikis, Tiger, Marigold, Good day, Nutri-choice, Little Hearts are category-leading biscuit brands from Britannia. Besides Biscuits, the company is into several other categories of packaged food items: Bread, Cake, Rusk, Dairy products (like Cheese, Milk-based beverages, and more), Cream -wafers, and Stuffed –Croissant. Britannia bread is the largest selling brand in India in the organised sector.
Britannia is recognised as one of India's most trusted and popular packaged food brands.
Also Read: Best Mayonnaise Brands in India
Parle, founded in 1929, is now a leading manufacturer of biscuits and confectionery. Parle-G, a biscuit brand, is said to be the largest selling biscuit in the world. Besides biscuits, the Parle range includes confectionary (Éclairs, Melody, Mango bite, Poppins among many others), Snacks (Mexitos, Chatkeens, Wafers), Rusk, Cakes, the Platina range of special biscuits, Cereals.
The original Parle Company is now split into three separate groups. Parle Agro owns fruit drink brands Frooti and Appy.
Parle Bisleri owns the famous packaged drinking water brand, Bisleri.
Segment: Ready to eat / Instant food
5. MASTER CHEF (from ITC)
The cigarette and hospitality major is now one of the top food companies in India. Master Chef from ITC is a leading brand in the ready-to-eat frozen food segment with snacks, kebabs, specialty blended spices, and several other items.
With a clear focus on the packaged food business, ITC has a significant presence in packaged foods with a clutch of brands. The other ITC brands are, Sunfeast (Biscuits/cakes), Sunfeast Yippee (instant noodle), Sunfeast wonderz milk (dairy beverages), Bingo (potato chips/finger snacks), B Natural (Juices and drinks), Minto and candyman Confectionery), Fabelle (Luxury chocolates), Farmland (frozen vegetables), Sunrise (spices), Aashirvad ( Atta, and other grocery items, milk, and dairy products).
6. MAGGI - Instant Noodles
From a child to an adult, most Indians are familiar with Maggie's instant noodle brand. Nestle is among the largest food companies operating in India, and Maggi is the biggest instant food brand.
With a century-old association with India, this Swiss brand is present across several packaged food segments. From Breakfast Cereals to Chocolate and Confectionary, Nutrition to Dairy items and Foods, Nestle brands are category leaders in many of the present segments.
Kit-Kat, Munch, Milkmaid, Nescafe, and Lactogrow are other leading brands besides Maggi from Nestle.
Segment: Snacks / Namkeens
Lays is the top potato chips brand in India and is from the food division of the soft beverage giant Pepsico. Lays offers chips in different flavours and tastes to meet various consumer preferences. As a result, the brand Lays is the undisputed category leader in all market segments in India.
Also Read: Best Skimmed Milk Brands in India
Talking of Namkeens, the first brand recall is Haldiram. This Indian brand, from a humble beginning in 1937 in Rajasthan, is today the first choice of customers for namkeens and packaged sweets.
Packaged Food brands in India: Future trends
- Rising Incomes and higher urbanisation to drive growth
- Change in lifestyle increased awareness of personal hygiene will increase consumption
- Display oriented modern retail and e-commerce will trigger purchase (of packaged foods)
- Work-from home is a stimulus to packaged food consumption
- The development of eco-friendly packaging will improve consumption further
- Evolving category of staple food items like Rice, Wheat, Sugar, etc. will expand the scope
- Intense competition will increase market consumption
Packaged Food: Challenges
- Indian climate – Heat and humidity reduce shelf-life
- Storage problems –lack of cold chain
- Managing seasonality- of raw material and consumer demand
- Sustainability issues- reduce plastic use and develop suitable alternative packaging
- Increasing hygiene/health awareness in the
- Entire packaged food ecosystem
Competition and convenience are known drivers of FMCG products. However, in a scenario of an increasing number of packaged food products being launched every day, the future holds plenty of potential for the industry.
With several large companies in the fray, the battle for the best-packaged food brands in India is getting more challenging; the brand managers (of the companies) are worried. But, the consumers are not bothered at all. On the contrary, they are eagerly waiting to get the best of the products!
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Q. What makes Parle –G the bestselling biscuit brand in the world?
Ans. Packaging, pricing, and distribution have helped Parle-G be the best-selling biscuit globally. India is a large country, and if a company can address the needs of the vast rural population, consumption will happen automatically.
Q. What are the problems faced by the packaged food industry?
Ans. Raw materials of most food items are local agricultural products. Therefore, the critical issues are managing logistics from the farm to the factory, processing, and storage. In addition, an inadequate cold chain is a clear obstacle for several packaged food categories.
Q. How is the best-packaged food brand in India decided?
Ans. It would be best to link clear parameters to arrive at the best of anything, including packaged food brands. For example, the annual sales value generally indicates the top brand within a category (like instant food, juices, or beverages). However, in all food items, consumer opinion and preferences play a critical role in creating the perception of the best brand.
Q. Is milk considered a packaged food?
Ans. Milk is a significant packaged food, and the introduction of pouch packing is responsible for the massive expansion of the consumer base.
Q. What is the growth rate of the Indian packaged food business?
Ans. The Indian packaged food market has been growing on average, at 15 to 20 % over the last several years. It is among the few businesses which have grown even in the pandemic scenario. The growth rate is expected to be maintained for five to six years.
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