Friday, June 14, 2024

Evolution in the breakfast table

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Until the 14th century, big meals began only around midday for Indians. It was not customary for the population then, chiefly comprising farmers and gatherers, to eat breakfast. After sunset, people consumed supper – the other meal of the day.When Indians began working extensively in other people’s houses and establishments, they may have opted for early morning snacks.

With the advent of industrialisation, Europeans would commonly consume coffee, tea and chocolate along with crackers and cereals. And when they came to India, they may have brought this custom. Soon, elite Indians too ate breakfast cereals and started the process of commercialisation of the western breakfast cereal category in India.

From then to now, the much-awaited 2022-2028 India Breakfast & Cereal Market Overview has been released and one of its chief observations is that the domestic breakfast cereal market has been on a sustained uptick, riding the expansive demand for cornflakes, muesli and oats. In a significant shift in trends, South India – which has traditionally backed its regional rice-based breakfast options – has emerged as the leading consumer of oats.Tier I cities are also materialising as premium buyers of both hot and cold cereal categories.

And the competition is increasing with growing awareness among the Tier II towns’ and cities’ hefty consumer bases about the overall western breakfast cereal category.The report shows how the national cereal market has registered remarkable growth over the years. The hot cereal subdivision (especially oats) is the fastest growing segment in the category – certain experts even peg the growth of oats at approximately 24% growth in the last few years. The entire category has performed strongly on its own as well, having grown at a vigorous CAGR pace of approximately 22% over the last five years. This is a vast leap from the 17% CAGR growth recorded between 2016 and 2022.

Amarnath Halember, Executive Director & CEO, NextG Apex India Pvt. Ltd said, “As it is, we Indians have always liked our breakfasts hot. But we were unhappy when our bowlful of cornflakes turned soggy the moment we poured warm milk over it. This was noted by manufacturers who have since made the cereal crunchier than ever before and have also worked to expand the hot breakfast segment with various indigenous oats flavours, such as masala, tomato, curry, etc.”

Benefitting from all this attention, the oats segment has flourished partly because Indians discovered that it tasted great with warm milk. Oats’ high acceptance and popularity is also driven sharply by growing consumer awareness of its health benefits. The burgeoning middle-class, double-income households of young millennial-led India is a big market for western breakfast cereals as they seek healthy, delicious, and convenient options.

Thus it has emerged as a top contender for the most popular hot western breakfast cereals’ crown. At present, while plain oats is the category topper, flavoured oats is also showing promise growing in a sustained and steady fashion. Along with plain and flavoured oats, wheat bran and porridge are what make up the overall hot cereal or Ready-to-Cook market in the subcontinent.

Other than oats, the cereal usually includes dried fruit such as raisins or dates, nuts such as almonds or walnuts, and also seeds, and sometimes even other grains such as millet or barley. This nutritious mixture is a goldmine of soluble fibre, proteins, iron, vitamins, antioxidants, Omega-3 fatty acids, etc., making it a complete healthy meal by itself or when combined with milk.

Having muesli for breakfast guarantees you a good supply of fibres to keep your gut happy, reduces bad cholesterol making your heart happy, and gives you sustained energy thus balancing your blood sugar levels. No wonder it’s hugely popular in Europe and the US, and, going by reports, gradually winning hearts in the subcontinent as well.

The newfound health consciousness is a result of the pandemic, following which consumers have flocked to the formerly niche category of breakfast cereals, tremendously boosting its appeal.Companies noticed the demand and introduced regular innovation. Several start-ups mushroomed specifically to cater to this demand and expanded the market size.

With so much development over the past five years, the western breakfast market in India stands poised at a precipice now.

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