“I need to eat right”! That’s not just me but every health conscious consumer of today. The strong focus on health and wellness is more than ever before, and is the reason behind the growing recognition of the need to eat right – for the body and mind.

Leading, and innovative marketers, and the smart, intelligent and well informed consumer are turning to health and wellness products, a category which is expected to experience robust growth across the globe in the coming years. Increasingly, shoppers are concerned and want to ensure that they are adding the safest and healthiest options to their cart, without sacrificing the taste – food that pleases the palate and has nutritional value, mineral benefits etc.

A recent FICCI-PWC report states, ‘The changing landscape of the retail food service industry’ identifies ‘health and wellness’ category as one of the key factors which are driving food services industry in India. In 2017, the industry was pegged at Rs 3,37,500 crore, and this number is expected to shoot up to Rs 5,52,000 crore by 2022.

Sedentary diseases like respiratory disorders, skin diseases, food, and water-borne diseases spread while bathing, washing, drinking water, or by eating food exposed to contaminated water are on the rise.  The World Health Organization states that waterborne diseases account for a 3.6% (approx.) of the total DALY (disability- adjusted life year) global burden of disease, and cause about 1.5 million deaths every year. All thanks to the alarming air, ground and water pollution levels, and the quality of food and water we consume.

Poor lifestyle choices and inadequate access to proper nutrition are leading to lifestyle diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer and depression. This is driving the present day consumer to become more aware, smart, and conscious of what kind of food (and how much quantity) they have on their plate. The self-aware consumer or the smart, health benefit shopper doesn’t incorporate the products into their diet without checking the quality and source of ingredients, the nutritional value along with the manufacturing date printed on the package. But, not many retailers in the market see the benefits of offering such products, which is a downside to this industry.

The new trend called – ‘Neuro-nutrition’ or ‘brain food’ is gaining immense popularity; the kind of food that could help the brain remain healthy and reduce the rate of degeneration. The smart shopper now picks up products which are basic and essential to health rather than the fancy stuff with zero nutritional and health benefits.

Today, India’s health food industry has three primary segments – classified into the organic players, the packaged food industry, and the app-based food ordering companies.

In the past five years we have seen these companies evolve, innovate to cater to the health food needs of the conscious consumer. Whether it is low-carb flours, black alkaline mineral water, high-protein snack bars, and organic cold-pressed juices, FMCG startups and new age companies have gone the extra mile to offer new age / innovative products that keep you hale and hearty.

With the profusion of start-ups offering a cornucopia of healthy food products, established retailers are also catching up to cash in on this new health and fitness trend. Largely an urban phenomenon, health and wellness food industry is soon to penetrate the smaller cities and towns of India with growing consumer awareness and preference – Yes, the need to eat right!