New Report Says Takeouts On The Rise As Home Cooking Declines

If you order takeouts more than you cook at home, you’re not alone. A new report says that urban households spent nearly half their food budget on packaged food, dining and food delivery in FY23 compared with 41.2% over a decade ago. According to new data from the Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation (MoSPI) and ICICI Securities, there has been a visible decline in home cooking among Indians in 10 years.

The report also projects that this trend is expected to grow considering the steady expansion of food delivery services and growing incomes. “Given the proliferation of food delivery and quick commerce apps, the share of processed food would have increased. As households move up the income ladder, their consumption trends also change," says Paras Jasrai, senior analyst at India Ratings and Research. 

While the amount spent on processed food increased 2.2 times for the urban consumer, it went up 3.3 times for middle-income consumers. That has happened even as the share of food items in total expenditures saw a decrease. Middle-income households spent more on processed food and beverages as part of their food budget went up from 16% to almost 25%. The availability of low-sugar food items and healthier and organic alternatives are driving up spending on food as they appeal to higher-income groups.

According to the ICICI Securities report, there is a reduction in absolute spending on staples for the top 5 per cent of the urban population, which indicates that the ‘kitchen is slowly dying for elite urban households". It also reported that the urban spending per head on food delivery was at Rs 971 per month in FY23, compared with Rs 60 per head in a mid-to-high-income family.

The Mospi data showed that the spending on dry fruits has gone up to 1.3 per cent of total household expenditure from 0.8 per cent a decade ago for urban areas, and 1.2 per cent from 0.6 per cent for rural households.  

"There is a movement from eating staples to more valued-added and experiential food in urban households which by nature has to be processed," said social commentator and brand specialist Santosh Desai. 

"Of course, food delivery has been the phenomenon of the last decade apart from premiumisation in food experiences. Hence, several households are moving away from the necessity to cook all meals at home and buying more processed food even when at home,” he added.