India is a predominantly agricultural economy and produces a large variety of agriculture produce for consumption such as vegetables, fruits, spices, etc. Traditionally, the home cooked food has been held to be the most hygienic and this perspective remains largely unchanged till date. With the growth of population and economy and with people in cities becoming busier in their occupations, there has been a gradual shift in the patterns of consumables. The initiation of the bottled and packaged milk was perhaps first such daily consumable popular commodity which was processed in industry before being delivered to the homes of the people. Emergence of the packaged Indian food, with due value additions and standard levels of hygiene regulations, has been a pointer to the coming of age of the Agro processing industry.
The instant drink market which was earlier dominated by the soft drinks has transitioned to being more agro and dairy-centric in nature. There are the ready-to-drink (bitter gourd) products available in the market along with the ones which need to be made (granular instant coffee). The main factors which have led to the emergence of the instant drink in India are the following:
1. Agro-processing technology: With an existing strength in the sound agricultural base, it was the availability of technology which paved the way for the value addition to the raw commodities and making them ready to eat.
2. Development of quick delivery distribution channels: The dairy- based products are perishable and have a particular shelf life. These have to be consumed within a particular time period to the target market. This requires investments in the delivery channels as well as in developing the storage facilities.
3. Changing Lifestyles: In the cities, there have been more marked changes in the lifestyles where both men and women lead busy lives, often having little time for home cooking or preparations. The changes in the lifestyles often leave little time for preparing even the traditional drinks.
4. Quality products: Industry standards and regulations ensure that these products do conform to acceptable standards of hygiene. Quality-control is strictly enforced in the manufacturing facilities of these products. With assured quality, the products have become more acceptable to the person which has led to the growth in their demand.
5. Advertising: Advertising also has played a major part in popularizing these products. When the people see that the traditional Indian food can be prepared in such a short span of time using these methods, there is a definite urge to try these products once. Even if the households can cook the food traditional way, there is a tendency to make use of the instant drink and food occasionally. So, as these products are available, there are greater choices for the people and the real good ones among these create a need and consequent good demand for themselves in no time.
Greater acceptability: These products are more acceptable to the people now. The ones which deliver on taste and quality find ready acceptance and become popular among a large customer base. People have also shed their inhibition of the bottled and packaged products and embraced the instant Indian food with cheers.