packaged foods: Appetite for packaged foods grows during home stay

New Delhi: Demand for cheese, noodles, frozen non-veg snacks, butter, rice, digestive biscuits, chocolates and lemon shot up 50-150% sequentially in the first three weeks of the lockdown in India, executives at companies and retail chains said.

While companies have to push through supply constraints to meet increased demand in these segments, sales of grooming products such as hair colour, make-up, shaving products and deodorants have dried up with people finding no need to do make-up or shave as they stayed at home.

“We are seeing increased traction for chocolates which are compensating as desserts and to manage kids at home, digestive biscuits since consumers are trying to manage weight and lemon-based products which are known to be high-efficacy immunity boosters as well as because of the lack of beverages’ availability,” said Devendra Chawla, the chief executive of Spencer’s Retail and Nature’s Basket. “Shaving and hair colour are down given that people are at home,” he said.

Dairy major Amul had seen a 30-40% increase in sales of butter, cheese and tetrapak milk, while sales of digestive biscuit brand McVities were up 100%.

‘Shift Towards Healthier Options’

“Sales in general trade have doubled for digestives and some adjacent categories such as marie. People are moving towards healthier options and portion packs which can be stored for longer period,” said McVities maker Pladis’ president, Abhishek Sharma.


Companies said they continue to be restricted by supply chain blockage at district levels, shortage of labour, transport and raw material.

Prashant Vatkar, the chief executive of Godrej Tyson that makes Yummiez frozen foods, said: “Due to a rise in consumption and pantry stocking, demand for frozen snacks has increased significantly. However, given the shortage of labour and irregular service by third party cold chain operators, we are unable to service that demand fully.”

With people cooking at home and children staying indoors, demand for both ready-to-cook and readyto-eat foods has shot up. “While demand is up 100% as Indians are cooking elaborate meals at home, we are managing to service only onefourth of the demand with supply chain being severely constrained,” said Vijay Arora, the chairman of LT Overseas, which makes Daawat and Royal packaged rice.

In contrast, sales of grooming products has dropped, with retailers saying women were opting for home-done grooming remedies instead.

The India unit of French personal care giant L’Oreal said makeup sales had decreased, though hair colour was still being seen as a necessity by consumers.

“The usage of make-up is largely occasion-driven and with outside movements restricted, the opportunity to use make-up has decreased,” a spokesperson for the company that sells skin and hair care products across brands like L’Oreal Paris, Garnier and Maybelline New-York said. On hair colour, the spokesperson said, “Most people want to continue with their hair colouring routine and its availability at their grocers and chemists is helping fuel consumption.”

Weddings, parties, other social gatherings and women stepping out to work are the biggest occasions for consumption of make-up and colour cosmetics, cosmetics company Lotus Herbals’ chairman Nitin Passi said, adding: “Since the lockdown, sales of both categories have dropped sharply.”

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