by Harleena Singh
The Marketing Process of Food in Indian Markets
It has been a fascination to watch the Indian markets as depicted in many Hollywood movies, making them look medieval and spicing them up with mysticism. However, the real Indian food markets might not resemble perfectly with that cinematic angle, but it is a fact that presently India is one of the largest producers and consumers of food products in the world. The boom in the Indian economy has led to the growth of a richer than before middle class, almost the size of the American population, and which surely reflects on the marketing process of food in the Indian markets.
The Indian food market is primarily vegetarian, and the Indian palate relates largely to wheat and rice based traditional food, complemented with Indian spices and traditional ingredients. The Indian families, which mostly purchased raw food materials for tasty food preparations in their own kitchens, are now getting more inclined towards fast food restaurants and ready-to-eat Indian-style foods. One may now find a McDonalds restaurant in every major city, and even upcoming small tourist or industrial cities of India.
There has been a surge in the mall culture in all cities of India, and mega corporations have opened retails food outlets, which are frequented by the rich and the upper middle class. Presently processed food does not occupy much share of the Indian food market, but has succeeded in sneaking into even the small general provision stores that are found in every street and corner of the Indian cities. Many of these shops offer the products at discounted rates, lower than the printed Maximum Retail Price (MRP), to counter the cheap rates offered by the food malls. However, most of the Indian families like to purchase their raw food materials, consisting of vegetables and fruits, from open food courts put up by local farmers. These vendors though quote food products at a general agreed market rate that fluctuates on a daily basis are open to bargain, and offer discount on bulk purchases.
The foreign visitors mostly purchase the food products from the malls and modern retail food shops, though those inquisitive and excited to experience the real Indian food markets should look for hygienic places, confirm the rates offered at more than one places, and get it authenticated from other Indian customers. The open and collective food court vendors woo the customers, announcing their products and rates in loud voices. People get to check the food products by manual inspection and handling, and even move on to other vendors until they finally make up their mind, and settle on the vendor who gives the best deal. The typical Indian family would generally make grocery purchases from a preferred local general provision store once or twice in a month, and stock up the ration at their homes. The perishable food such as fruits and vegetable are bought on a daily or weekly basis from even the cart-vendors, who circulate through the city streets offering their products at a slightly higher rate, at people’s doorsteps.
Mostly all food produce come from either the local farmlands operated by farmers, or food traders who own large cold storages having national networks, and the processed food through their marketing and sales distributors. The size of Indian food market is humongous, the annual output reaching to $170 billion, and feeding more than 1.2 billion of population. Considering the vastness of the country, the variety in food, and differences in food cultures, marketing food in Indian markets is surely a challenge.