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The Democracy of Foodservice

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Experts across the foodservice landscape speak in one voice on technology-driven social communication as a leveller and prompter of innovation.

Speaking at the India Food Forum 2015, Rachna Nath, Executive Director, PwC, said, “The biggest disruption in food consumption will happen when we undertake ordering with Quick Service Restaurants, using digital tools. Stating that investor interest is also seen very high in Quick Service Restaurants, Nath said, “The biggest trend is taking food to the customer rather than customer walking into a restaurant. Hence customer connect is extremely vital along with advocacy much beyond engagement and loyalty.”

Speaking at the Inaugural and keynote address on The Food Retail Leap 2020, , Founder, Speciality Restaurants noted that food has become a kind of entertainment for modern Indian consumers. Citing examples of Mainland China and Mainland China Asia Kitchen, which were launched 21 years ago in 1994 and comparing the changes, Chatterjee said, “There has been a huge change in food and beverages category. Now, we have knowledgeable and aware consumers.”

“People can learn and know about new recipes through browsing in the You Tube. People are travelling within India and also abroad, getting to know more about various different cuisines, different tastes and more varieties are known with the help of digital media and Zomato kind
of a website, Nature’s Basket, Food Bazaars and supermarkets,” he added. According to Chatterjee, the three trends that will redefine India’s foodservice sector over the next five years are:

  •     From restaurant point of view, format innovation.
  •     Fine dining to fun dining; younger generation — taking care of their sensitivities.
  •     Consistency in Brand refresh; beverages-cafes, bars. There is a huge revolution.

Referring to regulatory challenges and rationalisation at a session specifi cally designed to address FSSAI guidelines, Jitendra Nautiyal, Regional Audit Manger, NSF International said, “Codex standards were applied for harmonisation globally of food safety and regulating standards; QSR companies had their own suppliers as per these standards to assure quality and food safety.”

He highlighted the challenges of the Street Food codex standard, which were Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), RA Module (Risk Analysis) and Risk Mitigation.

The Technology Leveller

One of the main discussion themes through the conference was the rapid emergence of Quick Service Restaurants, which have literally transformed Indian eating habits. Also, the explosion of digital media is driving a rapid rise of online order placements, which is growing faster than conventional routes, experts noted.

On the one hand, quick service restaurants in India are overcoming the diversity in Indian food habits, while on the other, they are now reaching out to customers much more intensely on digital media compared to conventional formats. Hence, many of the brick and mortar restaurant formats are taking a back-seat with online apps emerging at the forefront.

“This market has drastically changed in the past 15 years, from fine dining and udipis,” noted , CEO & MD, Impresario Entertainment & Hospitality Pvt Ltd and President, NRAI at an interactive session on second day at the India Food Forum.

Speaking at a panel discussion, Niren Chaudhary, President, Yum! India, said, “Usage of disruptive non-standard experience to ‘wow’ customers is now essential.” He further emphasised on the need to have a centrally differentiated thought via shareable experience, relevance in concepts and care towards the customers.

, CMO, Yum! India, added: “The vision of brands such as KFC targets the youth of India and is aspirational. Simply put, the audience dictates where we want to go.” Reiterating the role of technology in driving foodservice innovation and citing Pizza Hut, UK as an example, Kataria further stated that the 65 per cent of the UK operations’ orders come from online media. Speaking about the challenges on launching international foodservice brands in the Indian market, Uma Talreja, Chief Marketing Offi cer, of new entrant said, “There is a need to develop an innovative food menu which retains the brand values and offerings as well.”

On the topic of building brands based on consumer choice by attracting the right target audience, Dev Amritesh, President & COO, said, “One third of our revenue comes from the sale of donuts. We must identify the customer’s key touch points and stick to original ideas.”

With the changing paradigm, there is an urgency to offer customers the opportunity or chance to create their own meal in sync with the rising popularity of the Masterchef shows on the idiot box, said K S Narayanan, CEO, Pan India Foods. On the supplies of food ingredients to restaurants, Karan Mehrotra, Co-founder & CEO, Localbanya.com said, “The three main primary propositions adding to the customer experience are convenience, price and range. About 85-90 per cent of foodservice retail is still in the unorganised sector.” Speaking on behalf of India’s largest alcobeverage chain, , CEO, The Beer Café asserted, “We should relate to how the world smart-phones. This way of communication is offering a lot more to the industry.”

Speaking on the hospitality industry in general with respect to people resources, Gauri Devidayal, Director, The Table said, “In India, the service industry is still seen as a not-so-glamourous employment destination. It has still not been given its due credit. The major challenge for us is to attract human resource followed by maintaining a conducive environment for the staff.” Taking the conversation ahead, Rahul Deans, President, Cocoberry, said, “The biggest problem in this industry, is that the people selling the product cannot afford it for themselves. The relation between the buyer and server is that of a master and servant. It is very diffi cult to have a relation of equals by breaking the class barrier in this situation. Along with money, reputation of the company is equally important. For a lot of employees it is necessary that the employer needs to be fair in the business.”

Ritesh Kumar Choudhary, Director, F&B, Mumbai, commented, “One must believe in lot of associate engagement right from bottom of the pyramid. There must exist a great engagement between senior and junior management. One should try eliminating the thin lines between hierarchies in business. In the hospitality sector, we need to respect individuality of the person and at the same time respect and engage with him.”