• Motherhuts

Food trends post COVID-19

The global food & Beverage industry involves various online food chains and offline food chains. The Food & Beverage industry incorporates the companies working in processing raw food materials, packaging, and distribution which includes prepared foods and packaged foods, along with alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

The primary factors for the increase of the Food & Beverages industry before COVID-19 pandemic includes the rise in the number of on the go consumers and progressed adoption of ready to eat food. Further, regularly increasing population and per capita income and changing lifestyle were other growth-enhancing factors of the food & beverages business. However, the key circumstances that affect the food & beverage industry after the pandemic include not a complete shutdown of the restaurants and other seating areas, but all these places will have to take severe measures to make sure customer safety and satisfaction.

A few trends that will increase post-COVID-19 are mentioned below-

A new return to home cooking: ‘Momade’ & 'Homemade' is the new normal ever since the lockdown. it may have started somewhat hesitantly and reluctantly, home cooking is back in boon. Yes, it may have been a no-option position but the fear of the virus is going to make sure that in most homes, a home sandwich would be preferred over a Subway for a while at least. And many of them have started to believe again that home-cooked is healthier. And well, yes, safer. Plus it makes for far greater family togetherness, though the last few weeks cannot be extrapolated into the future, once offices and schools re-open.

New home chefs; new YouTube Chefs: The lockdown ensured that many more members of the family started to enter the kitchen, and cook. Dads, Teenaged sons, Working daughters, Most of them have had good practice over the weeks trying at home with the griddle, the pan, and the oven … trying out, experimenting & experimenting with never-before dishes. And boost through Instagram has only encouraged and flattered them to pursue this newfound passion with even more enthusiasm. YouTube is the new guru. So professional chefs will increasingly find more followers on cooking shows, demos & channels, even if they don’t get enough customers in their restaurants!

Restaurant-style food: The demand for restaurant food is not going to go off. That is for sure. So, what happens when customers want ‘restaurant jaisa khana’ at home? Well, two things. There will be a demand by some evolved people for restaurant equivalent cooking flames, which means those that work at much higher temperatures. Few know that restaurant cooking usually is done at much higher temperatures compared to home kitchen flames, and that is what releases food enzymes that make restaurant food tastier. So that’s a new opportunity area for some companies … professional cooking stoves and cookery for homes. Second, will be a market for ‘meal kits’ followed perhaps by recipe videos. Some companies like iD Fresh Foods are already doing some of this, but expect much more.

The decline of street food: Whether we like it or not, street food that is samosas, bhelpuri, sev-puri, vada pav, and also our favourite momos will take some hit at least with middle-class folks who would want to avoid anything that looks suspect or seems unhygienic. Opportunity, therefore, for many ‘aunty Ji’ pop-up kitchens who will make small quantities fresh in their home kitchens and supply anything from dhokla to khandvi to mithai to homes and offices not very far away, in clean, safe, hygienic packaging. Not that it was not being done before, but many more of such pop-ups are expected to spring up. Already, Haldiram sells gol-gappas with half a dozen pre-mixed water flavors & condiments; many more further will look at home preparations for the snacks market, taking away volumes from street vendors and ‘halwais’.

Increase in takeaways: The UK has always been the best at the takeaway market. Takeaways are significantly more affordable and also economical than eating out at a restaurant and almost as good on quality. India, in contrast, ever since the arrival of the likes of Swiggy, Uber Eats, and Dunzo, became more of a home-delivery market. More convenient, more time-efficient too. With the kind of recent fear and distrust created by the Zomato delivery boy who tested COVID positive in Delhi’s Malviya Nagar and got 72 families into quarantine, it is possible that many customers in the future would rather pick food from their favourite restaurant on their own for greater safety, and want to eliminate a handler in the middle.

More home delivery: During lockdown itself, the home delivery business has sustained. Estimates vary but it would be safe to assume that despite all the magnified fears around food safety and possible transmission of the infection, home deliveries stayed (albeit 50-60% lesser) because they were allowed as an essential service. Going forward too, home deliveries are here to stay, in fact, premium brands like Biryani-By-Kilo, Chaayos, KFC they have adopted extra hygiene measures like sanitizing their kitchen every hour, taking employees’ temperature every day for screening, sanitizing delivery bags after every order, and delivering fresh dum-cooked biryani handis which are opened by customers only in tamper-proof seal bags. In fact with malls still closed, and restaurants still not allowed to function fully, except for home deliveries, many top restaurants will offer ‘premium’ delivery … the full food experience, sans the ambiance.

Lesser incidence of eating out: It appears at least for the foreseeable future, the biggest losers in the food business are likely to be restaurants, food stands, and vendors unless they are able to pivot and offer meals with minimal human touchpoints. Corporate entertainment is likely to decline. Even team celebrations, family outings, etc. are likely to remain low key for at least the next few months till the pall of gloom and fear lifts. Another downer for eating-out will be that the 50+ aged customers will drop very substantially. For premium restaurants, these are, in fact, the better, richer customers.

Sparse attendance at restaurants: Social distancing will be the biggest bane for the restaurant business. The government may itself mandate particular norms. People themselves will in any case want to keep the necessary distance. Plus ‘hanging out’ which is quite the ‘old normal’ for millennials, will see a drastic drop initially. Doomsayers are predicting a low for two years. My own feeling is that the pick-up in business will be directly proportional to the flow of good news on lower numbers infected, and those dying. So business will start to revive substantially by Diwali.