The frozen food landscape in India has seen significant growth in recent years, driven by increasing urbanization, changing food habits, and rising disposable income. With the increasing demand for convenient and ready-to-eat food options, the frozen food market in India is expected to grow significantly in the coming years. In India, the frozen food market is dominated by frozen vegetables, followed by frozen meat and seafood, frozen ready-to-eat meals, and frozen bakery products. The increasing demand for frozen vegetables is attributed to their convenience, longer shelf life, and health benefits. Moreover, the growing popularity of Western-style cuisine, such as pizzas and pastas, has also contributed to the demand for frozen bakery products in the country.

However, this category is not easy to pursue and comes with its own share of challenges. In India, one of the deepest dents is caused by the low consumer awareness, high storage and transportation costs, and limited distribution networks. Many consumers in India are still unfamiliar with frozen food and are hesitant to try it due to a lack of trust in the quality of the products.

Why has this category struggled so far?

  • Infrastructure: The country lacked the necessary infrastructure to support a cold supply chain, such as efficient transportation and storage facilities. This leads to a high rate of spoilage and waste, particularly in rural areas.
  • Power supply: Reliable and consistent power supply is essential for the functioning of refrigerated storage and transportation facilities. Frequent power outages and fluctuations in electricity supply pose a major challenge to the cold supply chain.
  • Lack of standardization: The absence of a standardized quality control system makes it difficult to monitor and regulate the safety of food products in the cold chain.
  • Cost: The cost of maintaining a cold supply chain is high, making it difficult for small and medium-sized businesses to compete with larger companies. The high cost of refrigerated storage, transportation, and energy also makes it difficult for consumers to access affordable cold chain products.
  • Skilled workforce: The lack of a skilled workforce trained in cold supply chain management and maintenance is another issue. This results in low efficiency and high maintenance costs, which further adds to the overall cost of the cold supply chain.
  • Lack of regulations: There are few regulations in place to ensure the safety and quality of food products in the cold supply chain. However, the lack of oversight and enforcement makes it difficult to ensure that food products are handled and transported safely, leading to health and safety concerns.

To overcome these challenges, new age foodtech startups and several D2C brands are investing in consumer education and awareness campaigns to educate consumers about the benefits of frozen food and dispel common misconceptions. Additionally, manufacturing brands are also investing in improving their distribution networks to reach more consumers and expand their customer base.

The role of technology and data is crucial in the frozen food supply chain, improving efficiency, reducing waste, and ensuring food safety. A digitally enabled cold supply chain helps in monitoring temperature breaches while being transported or stored. Cross platform integration helps in reducing human errors at inventory management and order fulfilment. Technology such as renewable energy solutions and energy-efficient refrigeration systems help in reducing the environmental impact of the frozen food supply chain, making it more sustainable and eco-friendlier.

How would you feel, if you received a milkshake and not your favorite ice-cream, that you just ordered? In one or the other way, frozen has been a staple in many households, providing a convenient and affordable way to access a variety of foods. The frozen food market in India is poised for significant growth in the coming years, driven by increasing consumer demand for convenient and ready-to-eat food options.