Ready-to-cook food market gets a healthy alternative from 'Indulgence'

The market today is filled with ready to cook food products that are doing more harm than good. Cutting the clutter of unhealthy ready to cook food products, 'Indulgence' offers a healthier alternative for consumers to save time without compromising on health. BW Hotelier got in touch with Indrani Sarma, Founder, 'Indulgence' to know about the brand's journey.

The gradual growth in the ready-to-eat food products' market can be attributed to the changing lifestyle of Indians. The hectic lifestyle of professionals and students deprives them of time and energy to indulge in cooking healthy meals. Ready-to-eat meals appear as their only saviours in such cases. 

According to the 'India Ready-To-Eat Food Market By Segment (Frozen Ready-To-Eat Food & Shelf Stable Ready-To-Eat Food), By Distribution Channel (Institutional Sales & Retail Sales), By State (Delhi, Maharashtra & Others), Competition, Forecast & Opportunities, 2023,' report, the Indian ready-to-eat food market was standing at $261 million in 2017. The market has been estimated to grow at a CAGR of more than 16 per cent during 2018-2023 and it is projected to rise to $647 million by 2023. Besides, the 'India Ready-To-Cook Market Outlook, 2021,' suggests that the total market for ready-to-cook is growing with a CAGR of 15-20 per cent from the last five years. 

The market has not been steady in the past year because of the appearance of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the consumer trend for ready to cook food market has picked up during the pandemic and is continuing well.

Amid a variety of ready-to-cook meals, exist the healthier options which are necessary to deal with the sedentary lifestyle that the pandemic has forced people to live in. BW HOTELIER spoke with Indrani Sarma, Founder, Indulgence to understand how her brand is faring during the ongoing pandemic.

Healthy lifestyle inspired the inception

Every innovation is driven by inspiration. When asked about the circumstances that inspired the inception of 'Indulgence,' Sarma stated that the idea was in her mind for a while before formally taking a shape. "When working full time as a senior marketing professional in the corporate world, I witnessed a shift in my mindset which would later give birth to Indulgence. The determination to eat healthy for a healthy lifestyle for my family was the motive," she said.

She continued, "Upon my exhaustive search, I realized a lot of foods claimed nutritional content, but a lot of people were apprehensive about the same, including me. For a nutrition food to be called one, its core ingredient has to be one that people can vouch for, and what could be a better alternative when you offer people Indian staple foods as easy to cook, store and use anytime kind of foods. Therefore, to curate exclusive Indian foods in a ready to cook meal gave birth to Indulgence."

Indulgence in healthy and palatable products

The market offers a plethora of healthy food products to choose from. However, according to Sarma, what differentiates 'Indulgence' from others is the quality of the product.

Elaborating on the same, she said, "'Indulgence' is also about indulging in food products which are healthy and palatable. Our products are handmade, preservative-free due to which they do not have a longer shelf life and are made keeping in mind your health and taste." 

The brand's ready to eat food products rely extensively on millets like ragi, jowar, etc. Indulgence also incorporates superfoods like quinoa to curate a range of Indian meals. Sharma also explained that their pre cake mix also uses a range of millets to prepare the flour, especially for diabetic patients who do not have to think twice before consuming their chutneys, jams, and jellies.

Commenting on the nutritional content inherent in the food products, she added, "Naturally gluten-free, our meals are packed with high fiber, high protein, high calcium and are diabetic friendly that makes up for nutrient-dense meals packed with essential vitamins and minerals required for proper functioning of the body. Since millets are diabetic friendly and considered low a GI (Glycemic Index) foods, most of our ready to cook healthy meals do not spike up the sugar levels and can keep in check both sugar and cholesterol levels and helps in maintaining ones weight loss journey too."

Strengthen immune system

The brand caters to the daily needs to maintain overall health and provides specific products aimed at boosting one's immune system. While speaking about such options, Sarma said, "Millet based ready to cook foods and cakes are not only excellent to boost your immune and fight problems like high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, cholesterol, and other celiac diseases. But it also boosts your immune system by providing high fiber, protein, calcium and being a complete meal in itself. Eating foods that enhance your immunity to fight diseases will be the key not only during this pandemic but also, otherwise, as there are lot of foods which rely heavily on preservatives and chemicals and are easily replacing our kitchen shelves than eating staple foods which are high on health content. One needs to be conscious and aware when shopping to ensure getting foods that are a complete meal for the family."

Expanding reach with D2C 

As far as the company's e-commerce strategy is concerned, it follows the Direct market to consumer approach. The brand aims to achieve a wider reach by being present across all marketplaces and being present on supermarkets' shelves. Sarma believes that a strong distribution channel will be the key to achieve the same. 

Elaborating more about her strategy to expand her network, she said, "This, apart from the demand for such a product with the ability to improve one's health and dietary problems, need a specific channel of distribution and subscription method. Nutritionists and dieticians offer a great platform for a product like this to reach the target audience. A monthly subscription method that takes care of a person's healthy diet requirement for the month is also in the scheme of things. Apart from this, we are actively in talks with hotels and restaurants to prepare healthy meal plans using our products as they have maximum outreach to people and in this way we can reach out to a maximum number of people in a short span."

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Indulgence Indrani Sharma


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