McDonald’s in India caused quite a stir earlier this year when the fast food chain announced plans to introduce local-inspired offerings to its breakfast menu. One such menu item was the McDosa (Masala Dosa burger), a burger inspired by the popular South Indian breakfast, masala dosa. While news of the McDosa gained widespread attention and had a bit of a polarising effect on consumers, it does indicate that the out-of-home breakfast space in India holds significant opportunity.

At present, India’s breakfast market is limited and dominated by street vendors and small South Indian restaurants. However, India has seen the emergence of specialised breakfast providers that cater to office-goers who increasingly have little time to make and have a sit down breakfast at home. This space is likely to grow as consumers start to demand greater choice and convenience for breakfast.

Growth in the breakfast space with oats

As global breakfast cereal brands have found, Indian consumers typically prefer freshly made hot breakfasts. Data from Mintel reveals volume sales of the hot cereals segment doubled between 2012 and 2015, overtaking cold cereals. Consumers also prefer savoury breakfasts, spurring innovation in the form of savoury oats in Indian flavours.

While savoury oats have become immensely popular, brands are now taking things further by positioning savoury oats as a healthy, any-time snack and not just a breakfast meal. There have also been extensions into global cuisine flavours. This highlights how new categories have the potential to evolve through innovation that takes into account local requirements, a movement that aligns with Mintel’s 2017 Global Food & Drink Trend ‘In Tradition We Trust’, which discusses how consumers are seeking comfort from modernised updates of age-old formulations, flavours and formats.

Demand for convenience drives category innovation

Intake of breakfast cereal is still limited in India as research from Mintel shows per capita consumption was just 0.032kg in 2015. That said, the product is taking off as it offers time-pressed consumers a viable breakfast option that’s considered healthy and suitable in terms of taste. While there is significant potential for breakfast cereals to grow, there is similar scope for prepared or semi-prepared traditional Indian breakfasts to take flight as well. This growth potential is driven primarily by the convenience the product offers as well as the variety that is ripe for the picking.

We’re already seeing this happening with dosa that is both labour-intensive and time-consuming to make from scratch. Focusing on consumers’ need for convenience, brands have started launching ready-made dosa batter that comes in different formats. Such an evolution of a category has the advantages of ensuring choice, immediate consumption and easy availability of a product not native to a particular region.

This is one of a series of articles featured in Mintel’s Insights into India thought piece, a selection of latest research, innovations and trends in India’s food and drink market. Download the thought piece for more information.

Ranjana Sundaresan is a Senior Research Analyst at Mintel based in the India office.

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