Indians spend ten times more than Americans on fresh food, as per a Goldman Sachs report.
The report compares the income expenditure behaviour of young, educated and urban people living in India, China, Japan, Korea and US.
India’s per capita personal expenditure is the lowest amongst the five countries at a little over $1000 per year whereas it is the highest in US at more than $37,000.
However, the expenditure incurred on fresh food in particular is the largest component of personal consumption for an Indian, though it is only about 75 cents or 50 rupees per day.
While Indians spend a lot less on packaged food, the Goldman Sachs reports suggests that this will change in near future as incomes rise.
In fact, as per Associated Chambers of Commerce (ASSOCHAM), the packaged or processed food industry in India grew steadily at the rate of 20% from 2010 to 2015. By 2017, it could grow by more than 30%.
But what happens when there is high prevalence of packaged food in your diet? For an average American, nearly two-thirds of his or her daily calories came from “ultraprocessed” food, according to a study by Carlos Monteiro at University of San Diego.
“The main culprits, however, are sodium and added sugar. Sodium is present in almost every packaged food, even cornflakes,” says Dr. Spriha Mittal, chief dietician at Genphy Home Healthcare, a Delhi based nutrition consultancy.
The possible health risks of consuming too much sodium are high blood pressure and hypertension.
Talking about the US, Dr. Mittal says that processing of food leads to the stripping down of nutrients. When food is stored to maximise the shelf life, even without refrigeration, it will have preservatives that are harmful in the long run.
“If you are going to opt for packed food, make sure you read the labels properly,” says Lovneet Batra, clinical nutritionist at Fortis La Femme in Delhi’s Greater Kailash. The labels list the proportion of the ingredients in descending order. “If the top ingredient is sugar or refined flour, then that’s bad.”