Trends in Food production and consumption in India

Trends in Food production and consumption in India

Production trends

Agriculture, with its allied sectors, is the largest source of livelihoods in India. 70 percent of its rural households still depend primarily on agriculture for their livelihood, with 82 percent of farmers being small and marginal. In 2017-18, total food grain production was estimated at 275 million tonnes (MT).  India is the largest producer (25% of global production), consumer (27% of world consumption) and importer (14%) of pulses in the world. India’s annual milk production was 165 MT (2017-18), making India the largest producer of milk, jute and pulses, and with world’s second-largest cattle population 190 million in 2012. It is the second-largest producer of rice, wheat, sugarcane, cotton and groundnuts, as well as the second-largest fruit and vegetable producer, accounting for 10.9% and 8.6% of the world fruit and vegetable production, respectively.

However, India still has many growing concerns. As the Indian economy has diversified and grown, agriculture’s contribution to GDP has steadily declined from 1951 to 2011. While achieving food sufficiency in production, India still accounts for a quarter of the world’s hungry people and home to over 190 million undernourished people. Incidence of poverty is now pegged at nearly 30 percent. As per the Global Nutrition Report (2016), India ranks 114th out of 132 countries on under-5 stunting and 120th out of 130 countries on under-5 wasting and 170th out of 185 countries on prevalence of anaemia. Anaemia continues to affect 50 percent of women including pregnant women and 60 percent of children in the country.

However, India still has many growing concerns. As the Indian economy has diversified and grown, agriculture’s contribution to GDP has steadily declined from 1951 to 2011. While achieving food sufficiency in production, India still accounts for a quarter of the world’s hungry people and home to over 190 million undernourished people. Incidence of poverty is now pegged at nearly 30 percent. As per the Global Nutrition Report (2016), India ranks 114th out of 132 countries on under-5 stunting and 120th out of 130 countries on under-5 wasting and 170th out of 185 countries on prevalence of anaemia. Anaemia continues to affect 50 percent of women including pregnant women and 60 percent of children in the country.

While agriculture in India has achieved grain self-sufficiency but the production is, resource intensive, cereal centric and regionally biased. The resource intensive ways of Indian agriculture has raised serious sustainability issues too. Increasing stress on water resources of the country would definitely need a realignment and rethinking of policies. Desertification and land degradation also pose major threats to agriculture in the country.

The social aspects around agriculture have also been witnessing changing trends. The increased feminisation of agriculture is mainly due to increasing rural-urban migration by men, rise of women-headed households and growth in the production of cash crops which are labour intensive in nature. Women perform significant tasks, both, in farm as well as non-farm activities and their participation in the sector is increasing but their work is treated as an extension of their household work, and adds a dual burden of domestic responsibilities.

India also needs to improve its management of agricultural practices on multiple fronts. Improvements in agriculture performance has weak linkage in improving nutrition, the agriculture sector can still improve nutrition through multiple ways: increasing incomes of farming households, diversifying production of crops, empowering women, strengthening agricultural diversity and productivity, and designing careful price and subsidy policies that should encourage the production and consumption of nutrient rich crops.  Diversification of agricultural livelihoods through agri-allied sectors such as animal husbandry, forestry and fisheries has enhanced livelihood opportunities, strengthened resilience and led to considerable increase in labour force participation in the sector.

Trends of food consumption in india

The Indian consumer segment is dominated by a large urban mass, including both graduates and blue collar workers, and the country has one of the youngest populations in the world. More than 50% of the consumer base is less than 30 years old, including 440 millennials and 390 million members of generation Z (born after 2000). An increasing number of these young people have higher disposable incomes than their older counterparts and a greater tendency to spend their money rather than save it.

Indians spend a high proportion of their incomes on food and groceries, compared to consumers in other countries, and food consumption and demand are expected to grow considerably over the next few years. Food is already the largest retail consumption category in India, accounting for approximately 31% of the country’s consumption basket, compared to 9% in the US, 17% in Brazil and 25% in China. In value terms, the Indian food market is the 6th largest in the world, with 70% of sales coming from the retail sector.

Over the last few years, restaurants, cafes and international fast food outlets have proliferated in India and eating out has become a popular pastime, particularly among younger consumers. At the moment, about 81% of consumers prefer to eat in the restaurant, whereas 19% prefer to get their food delivered or eat takeaways.

The Indian food service sector can be divided into 4 main segments: full service restaurants (56.6%), fast food (16.3%), street kiosks and stalls (14.6%) and cafes and bars (12.5%). Drivers for future growth in the sector include changing consumer habits in general, the increasing proportion of the population who are relatively young, an increase in the number of working women and the rise in disposable income levels.

India is already one of the biggest exporters of organic foods and is rapidly becoming a major consumer as well, despite the fact that organic commands a higher price. This is backed up by a survey conducted in Bangalore in 2013, which found that about 90% of the 250 consumers questioned would be willing to pay a premium for organic fruits and vegetables. The same survey found that for 87% of participants, the main barriers to purchase of organic foods were high price, lack of availability, narrow range and irregular supply.

Indians have become increasingly health conscious in recent years. In addition to the food service sector, traditional grocery retailers, supermarkets and hypermarkets are major channels for the sale of health and wellness foods and functional beverages, particularly to urban consumers.

In India, fermented foods and beverages are a widely consumed, traditional and natural source of health promoting ingredients. Literature sources suggest that Indians have been using fermentation to create regional and functional foods for over 3000 years. Rice, a staple food for two thirds of the Indian population was – and still is — the main substrate for fermentation. Preparation methods vary from place to place, but popular rice-based fermented foods include, among many others: dosa, a crispy flat pancake; dhokla, a soft, spongy, acid-fermented cake; and idli, a savoury, low calorie cake often consumed at breakfast.

India has a large and rapidly expanding market for milk and dairy products. Approximately 35% of India’s total milk production is processed. Value added dairy products experiencing strong and increasing consumer demand include milk powder, whitener, packaged milk, butter, ghee, yoghurt, cheese, and ready-to drink beverages.

 

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