Deep Indian Kitchen - which is part of the Deep Foods company, an Indian food company started by CEO Deepak Amin's mother 43 years ago - has developed a strong reputation among the Indian population in the US.
"Over the last 40 plus years we have become the go-to brand [for Indian consumers]. When Indians think of Indian food and quality ingredients, they think of us," Amin told FoodNavigator-USA.
Deep Foods knew that it could leverage its brand's authenticity even further and had built the product pipeline to do so with its line of Tandoori Chef frozen meals. However the brand needed a bold refresh to connect with a new generation of consumers who are interested in global cuisines and flavors.
Mintel International's Food Trends Survey recently reported 60% of international food eaters are seeking spicy and savory flavors. Overall, international flavors have led a 20% cumulative annual growth rate in new food & beverage launches from 2013-2017, largely driven by the 87% of millennial consumers eating the cuisine, according to a Technomic Ethnic Food & Beverage Consumer Trend Report.
According to Amin, playing in the frozen category is the ideal space to meet consumers with accessible Indian dishes, which can be intimidating for the average person to prepare at home.
"I think we’re in the right category of frozen, ready-to-eat meals because it’s very quick and accessible to the consumer," said Amin.
Rebrand leads to new growth
Deep Foods rebranded its Tandoor Chef line to Deep Indian Kitchen last year, refreshing its entire line of frozen food meals by adding vibrant "Bollywood colors" and a more architectural look to its packaging design to gain traction with mainstream consumers who are kicking their spice tolerance up a level, said Amin.
New products joining Deep Indian Kitchen's product lineup include butter chicken, chicken korma (a mild, nutty coconut-based with green cardamom and tamarind), and chicken vindaloo (which packs the most heat) frozen meals. According to Amin, while milder dishes such as chicken tikka masala, butter chicken, and saag paneer will always be top sellers for the brand, mainstream consumer palates are evolving towards spicier and hotter dishes.
Amin told FoodNavigator-USA that its quick-service restaurants in Manhattan where customers can customize their Indian meals down to the protein and spiciness level has provided the company with direct insight into consumers' evolving taste preferences, which the CPG brand has applied to its packaged food products.
"We get a first hand of what works and what doesn’t work for mainstream," said Amin.
"We have a grip on consumers' preferences with protein, sauce, and what heat levels they like. At least half of them are asking for additional heat beyond the regular [level] and we infuse that into the process," said Amin.
“Our goal is to fill the unmet need for high-quality, authentic Indian food in natural and conventional grocery stores with our line of frozen food."
Deep Indian Kitchen products are currently sold in more than 11,000 natural and conventional grocery stores. Its newest products will hit national grocery chains this summer.
"Deep Indian Kitchen’s new range of spicy-to-mild savory chicken entrees is well-timed in answering this growing demand from millennial foodie consumers," said the company.