Why not Indian food as a premium private brand?
I stopped by the Deep Indian Kitchen booth at the Fancy Food Show last month in New York. Glad I did.
At the booth, I was able to sample several foods from the Union, N.J.-based company made from authentic Indian recipes, including chicken tikka masala, a dish featuring slow-roasted marinated boneless chicken breast simmered in a robust, creamy sauce; and chickpea masala, featuring chickpeas sautéed with onions, tomatoes, peppers and exotic spices.
Talk about a mouthful of bold, sensational flavors, which these dishes provided. And get this: They are frozen foods that can be heated in a microwave.
Indian food is not new to this country or to grocery. But with an increased interest in ethnic and exotic foods, Indian food just might be catching on more than ever before.
The category could be a big differentiator for grocery retailers looking to expand their private brands.
Deep Indian Kitchen is helping to lead the increased popularity of Indian food. The company, in addition to operating five restaurants in New York, also offers its branded products in about 11,000 grocery stores. Deep Indian Kitchen also offers its products for store brands.
Deep Indian Kitchen has four plants — two in India, one in Union and a dairy plant in upstate New York.
“One of the things that sets us apart is that we actually mimic the process of how you would cook at a home-style kitchen in India, which is all about layering on flavors,” Ann Ittoop, Deep Indian Kitchen’s director of digital marketing, told me while I sampled and raved about the company’s chicken tikka masala. “Our sauces take hours to produce. We are all about the process.”
Ittoop says the company is using its restaurants as a bellwether for Indian food trends that could end up in grocery.
“We get to see how people, especially non-Indian people, interact with certain spices and flavors. We watch what they order [at the restaurants]. It helps us understand how they might shop in the frozen-food aisle.”
Indian food isn’t just becoming more popular in general, it’s also gaining more acceptance in the frozen-food aisle, Ittoop says.
“It’s really taking off there. So that’s really where we are invested right now,” she notes.
Premium private brands are the fastest-growing segment in store brands, according to market researcher Nielsen. Indian food made from authentic recipes would be considered premium.
Retailers should get the picture.