CHENNAI: Growth in India's fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry slowed in the last three months of 2022 from the previous quarter as rural shoppers spent less on washing powder and shampoo, market intelligence firm NielsenIQ said on Thursday.

FMCG companies - particularly those who make personal care products - have struggled to pull in sales from cash-strapped rural consumers, worst affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia-Ukraine war-led inflation.

India's FMCG industry grew 7.6% in October-December after a 9.2% rise in the previous three months, though consumption declined in the south and west, NielsenIQ said.

"Over the last year, consumer spending was impacted primarily because of inflation, echoed by consumers in the shift to smaller packs, and by manufacturers via grammage reduction," Satish Pillai, managing director of NielsenIQ in India, said in a statement.

Consumption of non-food items including washing powder, detergent bars and toilet soaps declined across consumer groups, with manufacturers offering lower discounts, according to NielsenIQ.

Still, consumers in urban areas bought more, with big-format supermarkets and hypermarkets growing in double digits for the second straight quarter.

Prices of products rose an average of 7.9% in October-December, marking the first single-digit growth after six quarters. It recorded growth of 9.9% to about 13% during the period.

Easing inflation and a pickup in farm incomes are leading to a gradual recovery in the rural markets, consumer goods makers including Dove soap maker Hindustan Unilever and toothpaste seller Dabur India said last month.

The Nifty FMCG index declined nearly 1% in the last quarter of 2022, while the blue-chip Nifty 50 index added 6%. (Reporting by Praveen Paramasivam in Chennai; Editing by Dhanya Ann Thoppil)