Changing trends in fruit and vegetable purchases in India
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Changing trends in fruit and vegetable purchases in India
Posted on March 21, 2022
By Vinay Raghu Prasad, Founder and CEO, Atomaday
I still remember the day Mrs. Reddy approached me and casually told me that “add to cart” was her favorite pastime these days. The pandemic has changed the way we buy everything, especially basic consumables. Like her, there are dozens of men and women who have contributed greatly to the digital landscape in India with their frequency of online shopping. There has been a boom in digital penetration in India as the internet user base is on a growth trajectory. According to Economic Times & Business Standard reports, India has around 826 million internet subscribers and over 600 million smartphone users.
Countries like the UK import 40% of its fresh produce from agrarian countries around the world and China now has most of it. India will soon take the lion’s share in the global food industry due to the space the agriculture industry is spaced and the amount of resources developed by Agri-tech startups in the last 2 years during the pandemic.
Although India’s economy has been in a downturn until recently, there is an ongoing demand for raw materials and fresh produce, and more so, due to the health benefits associated with it and the realization of the benefits of cooking “in the House “. Consumption of fast food and eating out has not decreased after Covid-19, but there has been a drastic awareness of the importance of having a healthy immune system and making food choices healthier.
Consumers have increasingly started to use virtual or online methods to purchase groceries and fresh produce. Food delivery apps and e-commerce platforms continue to be on the rise – and may be here to stay. This raises the vital question of whether agriculture is India’s new IT, leading the global economy onto a healthier growth trajectory.
There has been a shift in consumer trends towards buying fresh produce. Fresh produce (F&V) mandis will no longer be an offline experience in the near future. Just like how our offline bookstores have become a nostalgic experience. People have started relying heavily on online fruit and vegetable apps following the implications of Covid-19-19. In addition, shoppers have more choice online and can have it delivered comfortably to their home. Last mile delivery is formalizing faster with door-to-door delivery, self-service kiosks – also app-based, different types of mobile vans, and farmers’ supermarkets are gradually standardizing, at least in tier cities I and II.
However, contrary to traditional thinking, fresh produce has a unique problem and opportunity where it is conveniently masked under the grocery category when in reality it is not. Fresh produce requires separate processing lines, timed operations, and traditional inventory models can never support the fresh produce industry at a scalable level. This is the opposite of FMCG products, but the way conventional online and offline players have handled fresh produce has yet to produce innovation. .
Consumer suspicions about food safety and traceability have diminished over time. The minds of urban and educated consumers are hit hard when it comes to food safety. Not only did they start looking for fruits and vegetables virtually, but they also started looking for reliable channels for it. Thus, there has been a shift from localized cart vendors to modern retail format curated stores and online shopping models through apps. Food safety and traceability are some of the causes of emerging changes in fresh produce purchases.
The demand for immunity boosting foods like ginger, garlic, turmeric, papaya, oranges and amla has increased due to the pandemic over the past couple of years. The demand for high-value fruits and vegetables, such as strawberries, bok choy, basil, iceberg lettuce, etc., has also increased significantly. Demand is also increasing for citrus fruits, kiwis, pears, avocados, cherries and a host of other new fruits. Many meat substitutes or vegan substitutes for non-vegetarian foods like soy and jackfruit are also increasing.
The demand for organic food is also increasing. Demand for organic items was sluggish for a few years, but is now booming again. The cumulative addition of customers to the consumption of organic products increased by 50%. Consumers are looking for long-term immune results and many cancer patients have definitely turned to eating organic foods. Organic vegetable washes and fruit and vegetable cleaners have been introduced during the pandemic to promote fruit and vegetable hygiene.
Several agricultural start-ups have sprung up during the pandemic. India has over 1000 start-ups in the agri-tech space. Agri-tech companies had initially co-existed with the traditional agricultural ecosystem, but the pandemic has helped alter their operations across the broader agricultural economy. From conventional, non-formal and analog markets, these start-ups have become more creative, formal and digital, reaching a wider audience.
The biggest challenge in the process of producing and selling fruit and vegetables is product quality and freshness, which includes timely delivery. Fruit and vegetable quality includes the removal of unwanted substances such as chemicals, pesticides, bacteria, and other materials used during the growing and harvesting process. To ensure this quality of agri-food products, many standards have been formulated and used at the national level. All these legislations guarantee the safety and quality of fruit and vegetables and are taken into account by companies in this sector.
Second, the time taken by these products to travel from the place of production to the actual consumer’s plate plays a critical role in maintaining the nutritional benefits of these fruits and vegetables. From a logistical point of view of a fruit and vegetable company or producer, a big problem has always been to quickly bring perishable products to the consumer in a timely manner, without compromising the quality of the products. Few companies take adequate measures to ensure that fresh produce is delivered to consumers as soon as it is harvested.
The Department of Agriculture has set up a call center service to reduce agri-logistics troubles, including interstate movement of perishable fruits and vegetables. Many of these changes are likely to endure and create opportunities and alternatives as middlemen are removed. The E-NAM or Electronic National Agriculture Market, which is a pan-India e-commerce forum for farmers, is widely used for agricultural knowledge and services regarding produce inputs, quality, price and payments in line directly to farmers’ accounts.
Therefore, increased digital penetration, growing digital literacy, the outbreak of the pandemic, the proliferation of agri-tech start-ups, the revolution in agricultural techniques and significant government regulations and policies in this area have together caused this robust paradigm shift in fruit and vegetable procurement in India. . However, the bottom line is that only technology can solve the inefficiencies of the fragmented agricultural sector, to put it on par with the world. Agriculture in India needs the adoption of technology at every stage for it to translate into an industry.