Nutrition Negative India!

As India inches close to becoming the most populous country in the world, one aspect that continues to be under constant scrutiny is how the country fluctuates in its health index. According to the latest Global Hunger Index, India, which ranks 100 out of 119 countries, is one of the countries with the “lowest reduction in hunger” in the nine years.

Companies operating in India understand now the importance of addressing the BOP segment both for its volumes and its potential. Smaller SKUs, bundle packing, deals & discounts, availability in kiranas/ ration stores are some of the steps taken in that direction.

The food industry has also adopted some of these strategies but seemed to have missed the bus when it came to providing nutrition in its low cost offerings. Instant noodles, wafers, finger food, bakery items are some of the most popular examples in this context.

When a multinational company approached us with the intention of understanding the nutritional requirements of the BOP population to develop readymade and ready to cook healthy snacks, we were more than delighted to be a part of this good cause.

It was a two pronged approach: we first carried out a comprehensive kitchen audit across various home and commercial establishments to observe commonly used raw food items and food consumed across Mumbai. Mumbai with its cosmopolitan representation gave us an opportunity to understand the consumption habits of most Indian communities in a nutshell. Armed with this information and insights shared by Lumière team with their extensive category experience, the client’s R&D team went back and started working on some broad product concepts.

Prior to initiating work on product development, there was a need to assess the current nutritional levels in this segment so as to ensure that the products developed helped the consumers to overcome common deficiencies.  To address this requirement, we took on a first of its kind nutrition assessment study in India amongst 100 BOP families across the four metros in India.

We drew up a plan to ensure effective and precision based measurement. Scouting of secondary sources and expert interactions indicated the common practice of doing 24-hour dietary recall.

Our team decided to prolong the dietary recall to 96 hours so as to get a realistic picture of both food procurement as well as consumption.

A robust protocol based on zero error tolerance was developed. Input standardization in the form of providing uniform food measuring kits, BMI measurement, developing research tools for measuring procurement and consumption was undertaken to ensure consistency of outcomes. A control room was setup for tracking daily progress and systemic interventions.

The total number of data points for the study were 6500. The findings were fed into a software for dietary calculations. The outcomes clearly indicated a basic deficiency of essential micronutrients in the sample, especially women and kids. Opportunity spaces for breakfast and snack time were identified. The client went onto develop a range of products using regional staples to fill the gap.

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