India's Hotels Accelerate Confectionery, Apple, Nut Imports

India's Hotels Accelerate Confectionery, Apple, Nut Imports

According to USDA Foreign Agriculture Service, India’s food service sector continues to expand as the number of travelers increase and more consumers dine at restaurants.

“India’s Hotel Restaurant and Institutional Service sector is benefiting from India’s relatively strong economic growth, stable political scenario, foreign investment, rising incomes, high aspiration levels, a young population, and changing consumer consumption patterns,” quotes the report.

India  is seeing a significant transformation in the restaurant sector. Indian consumers are eating out more frequently and younger Indians are more aware of international franchises and foreign foods. With an estimated 100,000 modern, “organized” restaurants (20 or more seats, wait staff, menus) in India, there is plenty of room for growth in the industry.

It is estimated that Indians spend 8 to 10 percent of their food expenditures outside the home in restaurants, cafeterias and other food establishments. Per the 2013 India food service report published by the National Restaurant Association of India, the restaurant sector is valued at $48 billion and is expected to grow to $78 billion in the next five years.

The market for imported foods has also grown. Developments over the past few years indicate a growing number of professional, brand-oriented importers and an increase in the number of modern retail outlets and hotels. Among four and five-star hotels, imported products include wine, other alcoholic beverages, dairy products, meat, seafood, fruits, frozen french fries, sauces, seasonings, and condiments, drink mixes, and ingredients for foreign cuisines such as Italian, Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Mexican, and Spanish.

However, as the food import community shifts its focus from simply trading to professional brand management, distribution and marketing, importers are increasingly looking to represent foreign exporters in India. Key importers are located in cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Cochin and Goa, but tend to be concentrated in Mumbai and Delhi.

Hotels and restaurants, depending on their procurement systems, buy imported food and beverage products from alternate distribution chains based on the type of products and the volume of the consignment:

  • Imported fresh produce is generally bought from wholesalers and distributors.
  • Imported meats, fish, seafood, and dairy products are obtained from dedicated importers and their exclusive distributors who have the cold chain infrastructure to handle such products.
  • Most establishments procure non-perishable items through distributors or, in a few cases, from importers.
  • A few larger hotel and restaurant chains import specialty items through consolidators based in Dubai, Singapore, or Europe.

Wines and liquors are generally procured through importers, mainly private bonded warehouse operators, as most hotels and restaurants import liquor duty-free against their foreign exchange earning license.

The following flow chart gives an overview of the distribution network for imported food for hotel and restaurant sector buyers.


Flow Chart of Food and Beverage Food Service Distribution
Flow Chart of Food and Beverage Food Service Distribution


Opportunities for foreign food exporters in the sector are improving, and imports of consumer-oriented foods, led by tree nuts and fresh and dried fruits essentially have doubled since 2008 to $3.2 billion.




DescriptionTotal Imports CY 2013-Value ($ millions) Total Imports CY 2013-Quantity (tons) 5–yr. Import growth by value ( %) Base TariffsKey Constraints Over Market DevelopmentMarket Attractiveness for U.S.
Nuts (mainly almonds) 762210,96921In shell Almonds($0.55 per 2 pounds)


Competition from other suppliers exists but is not substantialHigh demand and growing retail industry
Confectionery6611,315,05255Up to 100%Competition from domestic and foreign suppliersConsumer preference for imported products/brands
Fresh Apples218194,3352750%Competition from domestic and foreign suppliersSeasonal shortages and high prices,diverse fruits among India’s middle income population and growing retail industry
Fruit Juices365,709 gallons1830%Competition from domestic and foreign suppliersIncreasing health awareness and shortage of quality products
Sauces, Preparations Mixes, Condiments, and Seasonings 125,438-130%Strong competition from domestic brandsConsumer preference for imported products/brands and growing fast food culture


Since the food supply chain system in India still remains fragmented and multi-layered, an investment in supply chain infrastructure and logistics presents a significant opportunity in India’s HRI market because the value of the food service sector continues to increase, the report says.








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