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The changing face of India’s food and beverage industry

Noor Anand Chawla

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The pandemic hit the already struggling Indian economy with a fierce blow, bringing it to the lowest point in years. As people continue to stay home, avoiding physical contact with the outside world, India’s food and beverage industry has been one of the worst-hit. However, adversity is often the mother of invention. The industry has been forced to create new ways to save money, grow its clientele and reach its pre-pandemic status.

These are a few distinct and revolutionary changes in the food and beverage industry, that are paving the way for its return to success in the new world:

  • THE DAWN OF THE CLOUD KITCHEN

Cloud kitchens are much like regular kitchens but they operate online, making it far more convenient for restaurant owners and caterers to have their food made in one single place. With this unique model, restaurants do not need to shop from multiple vendors for raw material and can simply order all their dishes from one place. ‘Outlet Buddy’ is the pioneer of this innovative concept, inspired by the boom in consumer demand for home-delivered meals. The founders of ‘Outlet Buddy’ wanted to make life simpler for restaurant owners and caterers by providing them completely cooked dishes, at the right temperature, which only needed to be warmed before being stuffed or served to the client.

  • THE RESURGENCE OF THE FRANCHISE MODEL

 Restaurants that have been shut for months have begun investing in franchises of other chain outlets. Once again spearheaded by ‘Outlet Buddy’, this model has been a boon for restaurant owners, as with full-fledged kitchens in place, they can run 3-4 brands collectively from that kitchen, including their own. It is a great way for them to utilise their existing real estate.

  • GROWTH OF MIDDLEMAN DELIVERY SERVICES

Aggregator delivery services have been popular since before the pandemic and ensuing lockdown, and have grown immensely in the last few months. As restaurants struggle to ensure safe and hygienic deliveries to locations beyond a certain mile-radius, these middlemen services have saved their businesses. Adhering to the strictest of hygiene standards and willingly travelling the length and breadth of the city, middlemen delivery services have seen a monumental surge in popularity.

  • AWAKENING OF HOME-CHEFS & SOLOPRENEURS

Being shut indoors for a few months gave rise to solopreneurs who began new businesses from home. Fashion and retail may take time to pick up, but there is a huge demand for delicious and wholesome home-cooked food. Many enterprising self-styled home chefs pounced on the opportunity, by beginning delivery services of bespoke home-made meals.

  • THE ESCALATION OF D-I-Y MASTERCLASSES

People who have never enjoyed cooking food have been forced to learn these skills during lockdown. Famous chefs and restaurant owners cashed in on this need, by conducting online masterclasses for a fee. Teaching as a profession will never die down, and this new aspect of the food and beverage industry seems here to stay for good.

  • THE RISE OF SEMI-PREPARED MEAL DELIVERIES

Amalgamating the previous two points, some enterprising restaurant owners have begun delivering semi-prepared signature dishes from their restaurants. This allows them to continue their business, while encouraging people to cook at home. They preserve their secret recipes by selling the semi-cooked versions of their dishes. When customer footfall picks up in a few months, their patrons will definitely return to enjoy the original dishes!

  • THE NEW STANDARD OF SAFETY AND HYGIENE

The biggest change the food and beverage industry has seen thus far is the advancement in safety and hygiene practices. Masks and gloves are par for the course but in addition, most restaurants have instituted regular temperature checks, employee rotations, multilayer packaging, contactless payment and delivery options, among other measures.

The food and beverage industry, despite being hit hard in the last few months, has re-invented itself and is on a swift path to recovery. For restaurants and catering services still looking for help, cloud kitchens and franchise models such as those pioneered by ‘Outlet Buddy’ will help bring them back on track, as will their willingness to think out-of-the-box.

The writer is a lawyer who pens lifestyle articles on her successful blog www. nooranandchawla.com. She can be found on Instagram @nooranandchawla.

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