Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Report making seems to be a big business for consultants touting high market and management credentials. To imagine that the whole food industry in India as well as the GOI depended heavily on the "famous" McKinsey Report prepared in nineteen nineties may seem ridiculous but it is a fact as GOI never had any reliable data base on the country's food sector. At best the figures were guesstimates churned out in the corridors of various ministries and the Planning Commission by the firmly entrenched, chair bound bureaucrats. How far the reports from the private consultants could be more reliable is a matter of conjecture. In absence of any other alternatives, most projections in the country are based on these "fancy" reports either financed by the government or published as part of a business investment.

"As per our new research report "Indian Food and Drinks Market: Emerging Opportunities", despite the economic turmoil, the Indian food and beverage market is expanding rapidly. As per our estimations, the market is projected to grow at a CAGR of around 9% during 2009-2013. Moreover, the market is witnessing entry of large number of super markets, hyper markets, shopping malls and fast food chains. Though most of the products of Indian food and beverage market are observing positive growth, alcoholic drinks have emerged as the largest and fastest growing product category. As per our findings, the Indian alcoholic market is expected to grow at a CAGR of around 12% during 2010-2013. Apart from this, there has also been a substantial growth in the consumption of fruits and juices".

To project a growth of 9% for the food sector or 12% for alcoholic beverages does not need much expertise as these figures are relatively on the safer side and any major deviations can always be explained away by invoking monsoon or drought! Imprecise language using words like "our estimations", "projected to grow", "large number of supermarkets", "most of the products" , "positive growth", "largest and fastest growing", "expected to grow", "around 12%", "substantial growth" does not instill any confidence on the quality and reliability of such reports. As long as there is no "quality check" on the survey methodology and extent of field coverage, it is difficult to either believe or distrust the figures generated by private agencies.
The new breed of consultants, many of them NRIs with practically no experience with food processing, having right "connections" at right "quarters", engage retired food technologists or young management graduates in India paying them a fraction of the fancy fees they charge their clients to produce fancy looking documents. The "Reports" they produce look impressive though contents-wise they may not be worth the paper written on them.

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