Indian ready-to-eat and frozen food brands launched during the pandemic
While the COVID-19 pandemic caused a lot of disruptions, it also provided a good business opportunity for lots of companies. One of which includes the sharp rise in demand for FMCG products, especially the ready-to-eat or frozen foods categories. According to a report by ResearchAndMarkets, the Indian ready-to-eat food market is projected to grow at a CAGR of more than 16 percent during 2018-2023 to reach $647 million by 2023.
Additionally, the Indian frozen food market is expected to be growing at 17 percent annually in the period to 2024, according to another report by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMAR). Amid the nationwide lockdown, even startups like Licious, iD Fresh Foods, and Grofers, among others, reported an increase in the sales of ready-to-eat and frozen foods categories.
Against this backdrop, SMBStory has curated a list of four Indian brands that recognised and leveraged this opportunity during the pandemic.
Goa-based Wakao Foods, started by lawyer turned entrepreneur Sairaj Dhond in October 2020, is a brand that is tapping into the emerging superfood-jackfruit, and making it easier for Indians to make the switch to plant-based diets.
Siraj’s real estate came to a grinding halt when the COVID-19 pandemic hit India in March 2020.
Sairaj, not willing to sit back, was scouting for new opportunities when he came across an article on jackfruit. “This was a turning point for me as I realised that even though I had been consuming jackfruit since childhood, as a business opportunity in India, it had not been explored much.”
Using his own savings, Sairaj launched Wakao Foods in October 2020, and sales started to come calling from December.
Currently, the brand offers jackfruit-based ready-to-eat products that are packaged and marketed imaginatively - Barbeque Jack, Burger Patty, Butter Jack and Teriyaki Jack.
Bangalore-based Geetha Nagesharao Kupparavalli (48), Rajeswari Ramnath aka Usha (54), and Roopa Adiga (42) are all “natural product enthusiasts” – and came together in February 2020 to launch an FMCG small business.
The ‘GRU’ of GRUhasutram is derived from the initials of the three co-founders who would often meet for get-togethers and on other occasions.
The three women invested Rs 3 lakh each to launch the FMCG company.
The COVID-19 pandemic outbreak happened just weeks after the company was launched. “The pandemic was making it difficult for women to concentrate on work as well as the home so we thought why not make it easier for them when it came to cooking?” Roopa says.
GRUhasutram rolled out a series of spices and breakfast mixes such as rava dosa and rava idli in the initial days of starting. “These instant mixes were not only helpful to women but also men who could easily cook using them,” Geetha says.
Today, GRUhasutram provides a range of products, including breakfast mixes, meals and curries, spices, hair care products, oils and more. It serves close to 1,500 customers a month.
The coronavirus pandemic impacted most businesses across the world. Amidst a slowing economy, many companies have either held back their expansion plans or pivoted to a different business in a bid to survive.
But, for Raipur-headquartered Goel Group — a steel manufacturing company, founded in 1960 — the story was not like this. Goel Group most recently ventured into the frozen food vertical space amidst the pandemic.
GOELD— the Group's frozen food business — was launched formally in June 2020. Started by third-generation entrepreneur Archit Goel, GOELD offers 15 products in four categories, including Indian breads, snacks, desserts, and vegan treats.
GOELD’s products are purely vegetarian and include Papaya Halwa, Quinoa Patty, and Beetroot and Cheese Tikki, among others.
These products are priced between Rs 105 and Rs 175 and are prepared in the company’s FSSAI-certified manufacturing unit in Raipur.
Launched in April 2021, mYints 3-minutes is a heat and eat range of gourmet frozen party snacks with all items curated in the low calorie, fine dining range, ready to heat and eat in three minutes.
Aneeta Myint, the founder of the company, explains that in India, the frozen food category mostly features cheap starch – deep-fried potatoes and maida-based frozen snacks, especially in the vegetarian categories. Aneeta wanted to bring out something in the tastier and non-fried spaces.
The vision, she says, is to be the go-to-brand of choice for ready-to-eat snacks made from farm fresh and dairy fresh produce in ISO certified production facilities.
mYints 3-minutes is available in six cities in North India at premium physical stores. It has production facilities across India – Bengaluru, Mumbai, Nashik, Kashipur, and Noida. NCR being the largest market in the vegetarian snacking segment, was its first choice.
By the end of the first year, the brand hopes to be present in over 10+ cities across retail, B2C, and HORECA segments.