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Pandemic shift: Why Indians consumed more breakfast cereals during COVID-19 times

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Besides market leader Kellogg’s, home-grown Indian companies like Marico, MTR, Tata and Nestle India have added ready-to-cook upma mixes, masala oats, idli, dosa and chilla mixes to cash in on the lockdown-induced trend.

Pandemic shift: Why Indians consumed more breakfast cereals during COVID-19 times
Indians consumed substantially more ready-to-eat breakfast products as well as cereals during the COVID-19 pandemic, which altered food habits amid safety concerns. The global lockdown caused more people to eat their meals at home. Cereals are the easiest and involve zero cooking, making them the perfect breakfast option for many. As a result, their demand went up prompting brands to cash in on the trend.
As per a report by Business Line, the breakfast cereals segment in India is pegged at around $300 million and its growth rate has increased to about 18-20 percent during the pandemic from the earlier 11 to 12 percent.
The cereal market is fragmented and ruled by multinationals. At the top of the breakfast table is Kellogg’s, followed by Pepsico’s Quaker Oats and cereals, Indian manufacturer Bagrry’s and then the recent entrant Nestle’s NesPlus.
In the US, the International Food Information Council’s (IFIC) 2020 Food and Health Survey noted that nearly 85 percent Americans changed their food habits or how they cooked. Nearly 60 percent consumers cook at home more, one-third snack more and 20 percent prefer to eat healthy food now.
These findings suggest a shift in eating habits brought about by the pandemic. Besides market leader Kellogg’s, home-grown Indian companies such as Marico, MTR, Tata and Nestle India have diversified their product ranges to include upma mixes, masala oats, idli and dosa mixes as well as chilla mixes to cash in on the change.
Seeing the growing demand for its breakfast products, Kellogg’s India has launched its Froot Loops here. They have also launched their energy bar and ready-to-eat upma mix in select markets.
iD Fresh is offering ready-to-eat parotta, poha, dosas and idlis. Marico, the brand owner of Parachute Coconut oil, has its Saffola branded masala oats while Nestle is exploring the breakfast category and HUL is reviewing its strategy.
Abneesh Roy, Executive Director, Institutional Equities, Edelweiss Securities, said Indian consumers are now willing to try new products, and those with health benefits will generally do well.
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