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How the growth of Indian women in the workplace is driving ready meal consumption

The number of women in employment is growing fast in India, resulting in Indian women enjoying greater independence, rising incomes, and greater spending power.

At the same time, dual-income nuclear families are on the rise as more couples choose to live apart from their parents post-marriage. As a result, these women face the challenge of effectively balancing work and family life. These factors are positively impacting demand for products that offer greater convenience and reduce cooking time at home.

The total packaging of ready meals in India of 27.6 million units in 2007 is only a fraction of the size of the total US ready meals packaging market, which is at approximately 1.7 billion units. However, the Indian market grew by 17% in 2007 versus a decline of 3% in the US. Future forecasts also are favorable for India with a projected CAGR of 12% from 2007 to 2012 versus a CAGR of less than 1% for the US. Flexible aluminum/plastic as well as folding cartons comprise a vast majority of existing Indian ready meal packaging types and will continue to do so over the forecast period.

Women will certainly remain at the forefront of cooking in Indian households. However, with rising incomes, higher education and smaller family sizes, women's independence will continue to be enhanced. This will likely lead to an increase in the significance of the female consumer market, as Indian women, especially young, urbanites, enjoy greater spending power. The potential of this segment of the consumer market in India is likely to be considerable, as the total working-age female population of India continues to rise rapidly. Packaging of all types, whether food, beverage or otherwise, need to appeal to this emerging demographic group in the world's second most populous country from both marketing and functional standpoints.

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