Growth of artisanal and niche food brands in delivery segment

With word-of-mouth and social media marketing, chefs have created food brands that have grown to deliver across their own city and other cities

The artisanal foods segment in India has grown significantly during the pandemic. This has happened due to the increased demand for artisanal foods including meats, cheese, ice-creams, conserves and condiments in the country. There has also been an increased focus on health and wellness. People are shifting to a more conscious consumption lifestyle and becoming more careful about what they eat. 

With the pandemic, many new chefs started running small businesses from their home kitchens. With word-of-mouth and social media marketing, chefs have created food brands that have grown to deliver across their own city as also to the other cities. Many artisanal brands have grown significantly including raising third party funding. 

The long lockdown led to Indians wanting to cook more innovative dishes at home and thus were looking for unusual ingredients. The well-travelled and discerning Indian with a mature taste palate is a target consumer for artisanal brands today. This segment of consumers is shifting towards niche, handmade and artisanal foods. There are many brands that intend on filling this demand for fresh, artisanal, handmade foods in India like cheese, preserves, bread, ice-cream, chocolates, cured meats, beverages, oils, and vinegar. For example, the Indian cheese market is growing at a CAGR of 24.8 per cent - showing tremendous growth opportunities for the overall cheese market in India. Another example is ice-cream. The Indian ice-cream market reached a value of Rs 201.4 billion in 2020. The market is further expected to grow at a CAGR of 14 per cent between 2021 and 2026 to reach a value of approximately Rs 442 billion by 2026. Ice-cream is currently considered to be one of India’s most popular Western desserts.

Another new trend is organic/ hydroponic vegetables and fruits. Many city dwellers are experimenting with hydroponics on their roofs and in their gardens. With DIY infrastructure available online, it is becoming a popular source of fresh everyday vegetables. With greater technology and access to information, options like vertical gardens and consumption of micro-greens are common. This is not only making diets healthier but also making fresh produce a choice and priority.

Farmer markets have also grown significantly post-pandemic in the metros and Tier I cities. These are small marketplaces that strictly promote artisanal, ethical and organic products. They are normally held weekly and include interesting food and beverage offerings enabling it to be a place where friends and family meet up. These are similar to the old tradition of weekly haats that takes place in villages where people bring their fresh produce together. 

Shruti Jain, co-founder, Kaze Living, who curated an online marketplace for organic and artisanal products explains, “Post-lockdown, customers wanted to purchase products that were healthy yet indulgent. At the same time, they wanted to buy from brands they could trust, from someone who had handcrafted the product with love, like your naani or mother - a friendly face they could associate with the brand.”

Internationally, artisan food sales have grown substantially during the last few years. With a shift in focus on healthier consumption and clean eating trends, people are choosing to spend more for better quality products. From going back to ancient eating habits using only seasonal produce or fasting to free-range meat and organic farming in cities, people have put their wellness first. 

“People are beginning to get the connection between the nation’s health ills and the processed, factory foods they are eating. The artisan food movement is all about getting back to knowing how food is made, and knowing that it is made with fresh, natural ingredients,” said Kimber Lanning, Director, Local First Arizona, a non-profit organisation that supports locally owned businesses. 

As the demand for artisan produce grew during the pandemic in India, this was met by delivery – both directly and through the aggregators. As produce/ food items are made in smaller batches, in home kitchens and with less complex operations, many choose to only deliver without starting a restaurant, cafe or shop. Thus, delivery has become the first choice for all niche food brands. 

AUTHOR BIO: Samir Kuckreja is Founder & CEO, Tasanaya Hospitality

This article was published in BW hotelier issue dated '' with cover story titled 'MARCH-APRIL 2022 F&B SPECIAL'

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