Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Global food

A cursory glance at your supermarket shelves might show you that India has opened its doors to international cuisine. Ok, may not be all supermarkets, but most of the bigger grocery malls have.

A few weeks back, I was shocked to see Maggi noodles imported from Far East. I have seen imported Kellogs and other break fast cereal products often enough, but this one surprised me. Italian olive oil has also been around for a while now. And I spotted a pack of Thai curry mix, imported by some company in Gujarat and packaged as per Indian specs (with the green dot etc.) - which I duly picked up. And there are many such intrepid traders who source products from all over the world (right now, I see mostly Far East and Italian and European and predictable) but it wont be long before we see some Japanese items here or Korean.

And of course, we don't know how they are selling. Olive oil will sell to gourmets for sure, as will a lot of Italian products since it is already established at the top of the heap. The rest, well, we will have to see. The Indian shopper today is a lot more globalized than she was and might experiment with all these new products.

The second thing being are these products sourced because demand elsewhere is falling or is it because there is true demand here? Or is it that there is race between hypermarkets to brand themselves are more exotic than the other - because otherwise, no shopper will be able to identify which grocer he is shopping from if someone does a "blind taste" experiment...

And while this is happening, there is sufficient ground for Indian products from all over India to be sold too. For instance, Kerala items are quite easily available in Bangalore, but not so Gujarat or Rajasthani (vice versa?). And while I did spot Kolhapuri Bhadang in more than one place, there is significant space there...

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