India may be ready to supplant China as the top growth market for Western quick-service brands, according to a new research note from the US. Sara Senatore, securities analyst for Bernstein Research, said that based on projections that India’s economy could soon outpace China’s, and recent moves by McDonald’s, Yum! Brands, Starbucks and Dunkin’ Brands “the focus on the Indian foodservice market has intensified”. She said that India’s economic growth could exceed China’s as soon as 2014, adding that much of Indian consumers’ discretionary income likely would go toward spending at restaurants. Senatore said: “This means the quick-service market in India could double by that year. At $13bn, the Indian market for fast food is just less than one-fifth that of China’s, but it is growing fully 4 percentage points faster — 19% annually versus 15% in China. “Importantly, fast-food growth has consistently outpaced income growth in India by a factor of 50%, as Indian consumers disproportionately allocate incremental income to luxury goods like Westernized food.” The analyst said that quick-service restaurant operators investing in India would also reap a “demographic dividend” from India’s youthful population. She said: “Unlike in China, where the population bulge sits in middle age, India’s largest population cohorts are its youngest. Because eating habits are established at a fairly young age, this bodes well for growth. Young consumers cite taste, variety and limited time as reasons to eat fast food; we anticipate that these factors will only grow with time.”