Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Prospects and Market Trends: Honey, Sweet Spreads, and Maple Products

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The honey, sweet spreads and maple products’ market in India is registering significant developments and shifts. On the domestic front,  the retail sales of these products in India are showing robust growth driven by factors such as increased awareness of their health benefits  and versatile usage. The import figures signify evolving trade dynamics and highlight India’s engagement with international trade, with a focus on products such as sugar confectioneries and chocolate.

India imported sweet spreads, honey, and  maple products worth US$40.8  million, equivalent to 26.1 million  kilograms, in 2021. Major import markets included Bangladesh  (US$10.8 million), China (US$5.8  million), and Turkey (US$3.2 million).

India’s primary imports comprised sugar confectioneries, excluding cocoa, such as white chocolate (US$27.8 million), followed by jams, jellies, marmalades, fruit purées, and pastes (US$5.8 million), and solid sugars (US$4.1 million).

Canada was India’s 19th largest import partner in 2021, with a value of US$0.4 million. Key Canadian exports to India included natural honey (Can$0.3 million), maple sugar in solid form, and maple syrup (Can$0.1 million), along with jams, jellies, marmalades, and fruit pastes (Can$5 thousand).

Trade of sweet spreads, honey, and maple products

India’s retail sales in the sweet spreads, honey, and maple products sector totaled US$441.8 million in 2021. The honey sub-category experienced a notable 20.3% increase in current value and a 17.4% growth in retail volume, reaching US$278.6 million (29.0 million kilograms). Jams and preserves, the second-largest segment in retail sales, increased by 10.8% in current value and 3.4% in retail volume, reaching US$70.6 million (12.1 million kilograms) in 2021.

Over the historical period of 2017 to 2021, honey products exhibited significant growth with a CAGR of 23.2%, while chocolate spreads are predicted to experience substantial growth during the forecasted period (2022-2026) with a CAGR of 13.1%.

Indian consumers in 2021 shifted towards preventive health measures post-pandemic, driving sales of honey products. Honey is a key ingredient in homemade immunity-boosting drinks known as “kaadhas” and was recommended by the Indian Ministry of Ayurveda for immunity enhancement.

Besides its immunity-boosting effects, consumers have become more aware of other health benefits, such as treatment for chronic conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and bacterial infections. Honey is also frequently used as a natural sweetener. Looking ahead, the demand for honey is expected to continue rising.

Chocolate spreads also saw robust growth during lockdowns in India, driven by existing and new customers. They have also gained popularity as a key ingredient in home-baking activities.

Competitive landscape

In 2021, the sweet spreads category in India was dominated by key retail companies and brands. Dabur India Ltd (Dabur) led the market with a substantial 27.3% market value share, followed by Patanjali Ayurved Ltd (Patanjali) at 18.3%, and Unilever Group (representing brands like Kissan and Skippy Peanut Butter) at 11.6%.

Private label sweet spreads, honey, and maple products held a market value share of 3.7%As sales in the sweet spreads category continue to surge, new entrants and private labels are poised to intensify competition among established players in India. For instance, in the case of honey products, the largest sub-category within sweet spreads, branded and packaged products are anticipated to face growing competition from unbranded alternatives in the forecasted period.

Unbranded alternatives are often perceived as more natural and therefore healthier, aligning with the prevailing health-conscious trend in India. Unbranded honey is typically sourced directly from farms, involving minimal processing

Furthermore, several new manufacturers have entered the market, offering flavored honey and specialty honey from diverse regions. Beelicious, for instance, offers an array of flavors such as cinnamon, turmeric, eucalyptus, and cardamom, along with Kashmir acacia honey.

These products are also marketed as organic, a claim that has gained significant popularity within the honey category, with many companies vying for market share, including Pro Nature Organic Foods and Organic Origins. In the future, flavored and organic variants are expected to witness heightened demand as consumers seek healthier options within the sweet spreads segment

Retail distribution channels of sweet spreads sector (off-trade)

The bulk of retail distribution is commanded by store-based grocery, securing an impressive 99.7% share, while non-store retailing, primarily propelled e-commerce, hold a more modest 0.3% share. Interestingly, e-commerce emerged as the star player during the 2017-21 period, boasting a remarkable CAGR of 58.8%. This surge was a direct result of consumers significantly increasing their online shopping activities due to the pandemic-induced stay-at-home lifestyle.

Within the realm of store-based retailing, all categories demonstrated robust double-digit growth rates, with supermarkets taking the lead, achieving a notable CAGR of 22.6% from 2017 to 2021. Nevertheless, traditional grocery retailers continued to dominate the grocery retail and store-based retailing sectors, maintaining a substantial 88.9% value share.

New launches and trend analysis

As per Mintel’s findings, Australia leads the Asia-Pacific region in per capita consumption of sweet spreads. However, there’s a notable  shift in less-consumed markets like Vietnam and India, driven by a growing consumer desire for natural and additive-free spreads.

Post-pandemic, consumers in India have increasingly become vigilant about their overall health and wellbeing, leading them to scrutinize product ingredients more closely. Consequently, consumers are placing a higher priority on foods featuring natural and organic ingredients, free from artificial flavorings, colors, and preservatives.

For instance, the Indian fruit spread brand Tasha & Girl recently launched its “Season Three” product, which features locally sourced fruit and is 100% vegan, free from artificial ingredients, pectin powder, added colors, synthetic flavors, and class II preservatives.

The use of natural claims in spreads has been on the rise in Asia. Particularly, Thailand and India have taken the lead in launching sweet and savory spreads with natural claims, while Japan and China lag behind.

The global pandemic has reinforced the importance of maintaining a healthy diet, prompting a vast majority of adults in the Asia-Pacific region to seek healthier options. Consumers are adopting holistic approaches to their wellbeing, looking for comprehensive solutions rather than focusing on specific health issues. This shift places an opportunity for sweet spread brands to emphasize the inherent and added nutritional value of their products, differentiating themselves from competitors.

Furthermore, there’s a growing awareness of the role of sugar consumption in contributing to various health problems, including  the rise of obesity in India as consumers shift from traditional diets to highly processed foods. This increased consumer health  consciousness has the potential to significantly influence the development of sweet spreads in the forecasted period, both by reducing demand and shaping the direction of new product development.

Notably, several small and medium enterprises entered the health and wellness segment in 2021, with more expected to follow this trend, offering products with lower or no added sugar. For example, the brand Bhuira Preserves claims to contain all fruit and no added sugar.

Between 2017 and 2021, India witnessed the launch of 1,020 sweet spread products. Honey spreads emerged as the leading sub-category, followed by confiture & fruit spreads and nut spreads. The most popular claims for sweet spreads were vegetarian, no additives/preservatives, or all-natural products. These sweet spreads were predominantly packaged in jars or bottles, with the most common flavors being unflavored/plain, peanut butter, and fruit.

During the same period 2017- 21, 1,106 honey products were introduced in India, with 166 new products in 2021. Liquid honey was the most popular sub-category, and common claims included vegetarian, no additives/ preservatives, and freedom from added/artificial preservatives.

BigBasket – Supermarket Grocery Supplies was the leading company in launching new honey products, with internet/mail order platforms being the preferred launch medium

Only twenty maple products were introduced in India between 2017 and 2021, with four new products in 2021. Maple-flavored drinks led in the sub-category, and primary claims included vegetarian, low/ no/reduced allergen, and vegan/no animal ingredients. Most products were launched as new products, new varieties/range extensions, or existing products with new packaging. Rakyan Beverages, Get Baked, and Raw Headquarters were the top three companies introducing maple products during this period.

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