Singapore: Given the ambitiously driven entrepreneurship of Indian businessmen in developing new food-based opportunities, Indian consumer market is likely to double to 200 million people in next five years.

"We expect the middle-class Indian consumer market to double over the five years from the current 100 million out of the 1.2 billion population and as such, we are positioning ourselves to serve them well before that," said Declan MacFadden, the President of Symrise Asia Pacific Ltd, a German group manufacturing and marketing food flavors and fragrances
in the region.
MacFadden has been impressed by the double-digit growth in the Indian consumer sector and has chartered a business plan out of its Singapore office for South Asian markets, which spans from India through to South-East Asia.

"We strongly believe in India and the Indian economic growth and we are convinced that our customers from the private sector will lead the growth in the Indian food sector," said MacFadden.

He underlined Symrise's Indian business strategy with its 17-year-old Chennai office, where 100 experts continuously monitor market trends, especially on the preferences of Indian consumers or their taste buds.

"Based on these consumer insights, they create new prototypes to fulfill these consumer needs and work in close collaboration with their customers to help bring these products to the market," he said.

Symrise produces all flavors for the Indian market from its Chennai factory.

"We have been in Chennai since 1994 and our business has grown by double digits annually, which shows the strong consumer demand," he said.

He specifically highlighted Symrise's "taste enhancement" molecules, which would help to maintain the consistent taste of seasonal fruits such as weather-prone mangoes.

MacFadden continued, "The Indian market is also reacting to the need for more healthy and nutritious foods in response to the strong rise in obesity and subsequent increase in diabetes in the population.

"Many food manufacturers are looking at reducing sugar, salt, fat, etc, in their products and Symrise works with these companies to make these healthy alternatives taste as good, or even better, than the original product.

However, MacFadden called for more government-supported initiatives in controlling food wastages, especially from farmer to consumer.

"We hear and see some 40-50 percent of the harvested food being wasted, all due to lack of proper transportation and logistics chains. This is one area that requires the urgent attention of all," he said.

He expressed concern about the continuing infrastructure deficit in India and urged that more should be done by officials in laying out infrastructure for ensuring every piece of fresh food reaches the poor, the biggest segment of the Indian market.

MacFadden said he believed the technologies and retail market management systems from more developed countries would be available for India to help control food wastage.

He noted that cold storage chains and large scale professional retail groups were now emerging in the market and that this would lead to an explosion of new processed foods and beverages being launched in this market over the coming years.

India would remain one of the major sources of food for global markets, given that agricultural land in other emerging economies is shrinking due to increasing urbanisation and industrialisation demand.

Processing and packaging technologies are already being used by Indian food industry and the microbiological contamination from traditionally sun drying has been eliminated significantly, he noted.

The Indian food sector is fortunate to have a reasonably clean slate in food production compared to other Asian countries, where food production and processing have been traumatically hit by major contamination scandals, said MacFadden.