Demand for healthy bakery products, particularly cookies, is increasing in India due to active lifestyle of consumers’ looking for convenient eating options.
Millennials, who form a major percentage of the working population in India, are a driving force behind the consumer trends today. As far as bakery products are concerned, they desire for healthy products with high nutritional values.
Cookies which are not only healthy and nutritious but can also be consumed as snacks are becoming popular globally. Ashok Malkani takes a kaleidoscopic look at all aspects of cookies and the rising market for these scrumptious tidbits.
The bakery industry’s two most popular products are biscuits and bread. But no one seems to pay heed to the popularity of cookies. This, in spite of the fact that every Indian regional cuisine has a cookie variant, the mathri and shakkarpara from Punjab, the thekua from Bihar, the aarsa or anarsa from Maharashtra and roat from Sindhis, etc.
Karachi Bakery has become popular with its cookie variants termed as wine, fruit and Osmania biscuits.
And the most famous of all cookies, throughout the country is the unforgettable nankhatai !
If one takes a global look at this bakery product one finds that in Spain they are called as galletas while the Germans call them as keks or Plzchen and in Italy there are several names to identify various forms of cookies including amaretti and biscotti. In England and Australia they are just termed as biscuits.
Cookies are loved by everyone, be they children, millennials or even elderly people. The love by all generations can be understood as cookies have chocolate, nuts, fruits, and grains – just to name a few ingredients – which, create wonderfully contrasting flavours and textures that can satisfy even the most particular sweet tooth.
So how popular are cookies and when did they become popular?
Mansi says, “Cookies have complex and contrasting textures which is why they are famous worldwide. They are loved by all age groups because of the variety of flavours, shapes and sizes.”
As far as popularity of cookies compared to biscuits is concerned Mansi avers that cookies are more popular than biscuits. She disclosed, “65% of people like cookies because of the chewy texture whereas the other 35% like biscuits because of the crunchy texture. In terms of ingredients and flavours, cookies are a lot more loaded and full of flavour compared to biscuits.”
Rahul states, “Cookies are popular because though they require almost the same ingredients as a cake, they are smaller and stay fresh longer. They are also equally famous because of their variety which one person can customize as required with numerous ingredients.”
He adds, “Cookies rose in popularity sooner when compared to biscuits. This is currently due to the market demand for them. As a result, they are heavily advertised with varying options of being vegan, lactose-free, sugar-free and with multiple choices in flavour.”
The popularity for cookies in India has developed slowly over the years.
Rahul says, “India developed its taste for biscuits through Parle. With other companies coming in, trends changed and over the last two decades cookies found favour with kids and teens. With their attractive shapes and flavours cookies have become the go-to snack for toddlers.
He continues, “Cookies as we know them today, such as cream-centered and jam-filled cookies, became popular a few decades ago. But there was one cookie we held dear to our history for many centuries. That was the Nankhatai cookies. These are simple cookies made with dough originally meant for Naan bread, but it is dried later, giving it a distinctive crack and chewiness.”
Mansi disclosed, “As far as India is concerned cookies are quite popular in the country. Some of the popular cookies are dark fantasy, Milano and Osmania cookies. Cookies that contain chocolate are more popular among youth and children whereas oatmeal cookies and cookies that have fruit and nuts are more popular among people aged above 35.”
She revealed, “Thalassery in Kerala is believed to be the first to introduce bakery culture in India in the early 1800s. They became famous for their freshly made cakes and cookies. Their shops used to be very small but still smelled of freshly baked goods. They would stock a wide variety of flavours such as banana to pepper, ginger, masala, butter, sugar cookies and even coconut biscuits, which were all freshly made and served hot.”
In most English speaking countries, except for the United States, crunchy cookies are called biscuits. Cookies contain many of the same ingredients as cakes except they have a lower proportion of liquid with higher proportion of sugar and fat to flour.
But what exactly is the difference between cookies and biscuits? How does one differentiate between them? Some believe that it’s all about linguistics.
Mansi Manghani, head pastry chef and the owner of Pixie Dust says, “The main difference between the two is the number of ingredients. The basic composition of a biscuit is flour, sugar, butter whereas cookies require more complex ingredients. Biscuit dough is harder in texture while cookies have soft dough and are a little dense.”
Rahul Chahar, Pastry Chef, Vivanta New Delhi, Dwarka, stated, “Texture-wise, biscuits are simple, lighter and have a crunch when bitten into, whereas cookies are more extensive, denser and chewy.”
But one is apt to wonder how the term cookie originated. It is derived from the Dutch word koekje, meaning “small or little cake.” The term biscuit comes from the Latin word word bis coctum, which means, “twice baked.”
Cookies have evolved over centuries.
Mansi states, “Different types of cookies include- choco chip, shortbread, biscotti, oatmeal, gingerbread, snickerdoodle, sugar cookies to name a few.”
She adds, “Chocó chip cookies are the most popular cookies in the whole world. It is enjoyed by people of all age groups. There’s a ton of variants that can be made with these cookies. Dark, milk, white, peanut butter, center filled chocolate chip cookies are some to begin with.”
Chocolate chip cookies are so enduringly popular that they never go out of style. The firm yet light and airy type of chocolate chip cookie has seen a recent resurgence.
Some of the most popular cookies in the world are:
Nankhatai, is extremely popular in India. They are rich in ghee and saffron or other nuts and condiments. Right from cardamom to cumin, nankhatais come in different flavours. The Nankhatai originated in Surat where a Dutch bakery, in order to save the failing business, started serving it to the people.
Fortune Cookies, hugely popular in China, finds its origin in Kyoto Japan. Made from flour, sugar, vanilla and sesame seed oil, fortune cookies have a little piece of paper inside them with a message which is trusted to bring good fortune. They are often served with the bill in some Chinese restaurants in India.
Gingerbread cookies, popular in Germany, are made from a stiff dough which is chilled, rolled out and then cut into shape with a cookie cutter. The figure shaped gingerbread biscuits were introduced in the court of England’s Queen, Elizabeth I.
The popularity of this bakery product has, over the years, risen globally. In 2018 the global cookies market was valued at $ 30.62 billion. According to Market Analysis Report the market for cookies is projected to expand at a CAGR of 5.3% from 2019 to 2025. Growing product popularity, especially in emerging regions, is expected to be the key factor fueling the market growth.
High demand for chocolate cookies in developed economies like the U.S., Germany, and the U.K. is expected to boost the market further. Bakery manufacturers attract customers with innovative packaging solutions and by launching new flavor variants, such as pineapple.
The Report adds that rising disposable income in emerging economies, including China and India, is projected to drive the product demand over the years to come. It adds that rising product popularity as gifting option would further boost the demand.
One of the reasons for the rising demand of cookies is believed to be the health benefits it offers. During the pandemic, when everyone is becoming health conscious, cookies are a healthy snack option. It is believed that eating cookies can help boost your energy because it contains whole grain flour, which provides a nutritious source of protein, vitamins, fiber, and minerals that help produce a stable metabolism. Cookies are the all-time favorite for all those who love tasty and healthy snacks.
Cookies can also help you reduce weight. They are custom made to fit your body nature. Most of the cookies are made of natural ingredients, making the nutrition benefits of cookies quite high. Cookies are good alternatives for any other unhealthy snack choices. Cookies contain macro nutrients that provide energy for the body, like proteins, carbohydrates and fats. When you are using oats, you will get all the benefits of the oats
Dietary fiber in cookies has many health benefits, including preventing constipation, lowering blood cholesterol, and losing weight. But this can be achieved only if you consume the required amount of cookies to receive the right proportion of calories for everyday metabolic activity. It’s the perfect snack for those who are on a diet or diagnosed with diabetes.
Cookies mostly use healthy baking oils like olive oil or grapeseed oil and less butter. These oils help you cut your intake of saturated fats
Healthy cookies are usually made using natural sweeteners such as raw honey, agave syrup, and fruit purees.
Mansi declared, “I would like to inform the readers that the rarest cookie in the world, “Duchess Cookie” was created by Sofia Denetriou in 2018. It consisted of a 23-carat gold leaf covered cookie which sold for $1000.
She disclosed, “The base was a red velvet cookie that has Ruby chocolate and is coated with 23000 gold leafs. The cookie is encased in a shoe sculpted with chocolate, a baccarat catchall and a string of freshwater pearls.”
Mansi believes that cookies will surpass the demand for biscuits because of the quality of ingredients and the complex process it involves, resulting in a much more flavourful product. She is of the opinion that sugar cookies are going to be the new up and coming cookies because they’re like a blank canvas to fill.
She avers, “As a new entrepreneur, it is more advisable to enter the cookie market as there are a lot of variations that can be made in cookies. There are so many variants already available in the market that India hasn’t experienced yet. One could try recreating the classic recipes as well as play around with different ingredients.”
Rahul too feels that cookies would have a better market than biscuits. He says, “Times, when people would sit at a table and have the same old fashioned biscuits, have changed. Cookies often come with unusual flavours and attractive packaging. Hence, what the biscuit was initially for and what cookies are seen now are entirely different.”
Well one can say: “that’s how the cookie crumbles”. It’s cookies that top over biscuits!
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