Indian food industry report: What's in store post lockdown 4.0?   

Social distancing woven into restaurant layouts, intensive kitchen sanitation norms and contact-less payment plans are some of the food trends likely to emerge

author_img Rupali Dean Published :  29th May 2020 06:00 AM   |   Published :   |  29th May 2020 06:00 AM

This move is impacting the type of food that is consumed, the source, how and where it is prepared and how it is manufactured and stored. The usage of terms counting immunity, anxiety relief and therapeutic aids in relation to food selections is skyrocketing today. The limitations will not be lifted in a hurry. But, when they are, people are chewing at the bit to get back out and appreciate a social life again. When that happens… the way restaurants run will change — will community tables still work? Will there be a rise in catering to more private affairs? How much of a crowd at a bar are people going to tolerate? It is not easy to tell right now, but we are going to see a lot of changes take shape over the coming months. The lift might not be continuing, though, as users’ monetary truth sets in. More significantly than price, the customer will also gain on quality. One thing is for sure, while it will be an extremely rough time for restaurants and hotels, the choice for the customer will be vast. Taking learnings from this crisis, awareness amongst the populace will result in a lot of best practices…


The harshness of these diseases show that the immune system is certainly very powerful, but is no longer working within the ecological constraints for which it was selected. Humanity is undoubtedly more armed today to battle viruses than it was 100 years ago. Unfortunately, while humanity has benefited from the progress of science, we have undermined our natural immunity; Sonu Shivdasani, founder and CEO Soneva feels that the change in our diets had resulted in less immune boosting foods that were a staple of diets in most countries, whether it was garlic used in Mediterranean cuisine, red onions in the Middle East and Levant area, or turmeric and ginger in Asia. “A product that I use which I find has been fantastic in supporting my gut health is ‘Restore’. It is manufactured by Biomic Sciences. I also use a prebiotic powder in the morning”, shares Shivdasani. COVID-19 changed the trend and today most conversations these days focus on the benefits of food. Patrons want to know what wellness benefits their food will give them, will it develop gut health? Stimulate improved skin? Upsurge focus? And they make their choices accordingly. 


The predominant theme? Fear of infection and often time’s human contact. “We ensure zero contact delivery and no contact cooking. All our riders wear masks and sanitise their hands regularly. The riders leave it on the customer’s doorstep to prevent any bacteria or germs from being transmitted,” shares Ahsan Ali Qureshi, Co-founder, Cross Border Kitchens. At The JW Marriott, New Delhi, General Manager Nitesh Gandhi has put a perfect process in order. “From order placement to delivery everything is done and supervised by the hotel’s team which is very well trained to maintain sanitation and hygiene,” shares Gandhi. As the world navigates through the coronavirus outbreak, Dimcha in Delhi turned to contactless delivery. They rapidly put in place stringent operational protocols. This includes sanitisation of their kitchen surfaces at regular intervals, through the day. The delivery teams wash and sanitise their hands alongside sanitising delivery bags after each order. “We are insisting on contact-less payments, either by paying online or by BHIM UPI. Doorstep deliveries are also completely contact-less and are managed with our internal team with road safety gear. There are three ordering options for food delivery guests living within a 10km radius — call and place an order which will be delivered to their doorstep, a takeaway option, as well as  deliveries through third party aggregators within the vicinity of the hotel,” shares Kumar Shobhan, General Manager Hyatt Regency, Kolkata.

With cash flow being close-fitting and companies needing bums on seats as speedily as possible, there will be some unbelievable deals and offers out there. Home deliveries with curated experiences or chef-led menus at home — will become the new trend. “You can already see this kind of innovation taking shape globally — customised meal plans, chefs curating personalised experiences for small groups in your own home, tasting menus being boxed and delivered to your doorstep. The number of meals people eat at home is also going to increase as people spend more time in the kitchen exploring their cooking skills or using it as quality time with loved ones,” says Aditi Dugar, Owner Masque Restaurant Mumbai.
One can already see that with some inordinate take-out ingenuities and restaurants adapting. For example, at Andaz Delhi’s Annamaya, they have an extensive market list encompassing their artisan retail products that will help support these humble local artisans as well as ensure customers only use the best organic and seasonal ingredients when they cook at home. This novelty will only speed up when people can get themselves and their patrons back into their premises. “There will be trends of how new packaging can be developed which doesn’t hold on to the virus for too long,” adds Amit Bagga, CEO and Co-founder of Daryaganj Hospitality. In addition to the food delivery, Hyatt Regency Kolkata has also initiated Hyatt @Home concept wherein you can order your favourite dish’s recipe kit. They deliver all fresh ingredients packed to your home for you to cook following instructions of the recipe card which comes with ingredients box or by a video recipe where you can cook like a pro. They just launched the Weekend Brunch at home with set menus for four people or more.


Extreme Sanitation and Essential Transparency are complete must-haves for any business that is serving customers and the best way is restaurants to hold themselves accountable. Instapizza a home-grown pizza brand in Delhi has introduced CrustFlix, where customers can live-stream what’s cooking in the kitchen 24 X 7. CrustFlix will now be an enduring part of Instapizza’s business model and will advance and restate on it in the future.  CrustFlix, enables people to see every single step the brand is taking to make sure their teams, kitchens, and food are all 100 per cent safe. The brand conducts hourly temperature checks for all staff and delivery executives, all staff has been provided with fully protected kitchen wear and they wash and sanitise their hands every 20 minutes for 20 seconds. The kitchen is sanitised every two hours, and ovens are kept at 265*C (super-hot ovens to kill off bacteria and viruses). “With our Trust Brigade initiative in which the delivery Team wears PPE, we hope to demonstrate to the customer that the entire chain of their pizza — from our kitchen to their home is as protected as it can possibly be,” says Ashwin Jain, Founder, Instapizza.

Roseate House, a luxury fine dining restaurant, which is currently delivering gourmet delicacies, has ramped up the hygiene quotient and shares live access to the kitchen via camera. “To begin with, the camera access shall be provided for the direct orders and eventually this will lead to the orders through the food aggregators as well. The live streaming shall be continued as an ongoing process once the lockdown is lifted and shall be available for both orders received from outside the hotel or from the guests residing at our properties,” shares, Dr Ankur Bhatia, Executive Director, Roseate Hotels & Resorts. 

Provenance will play an important role as people will like to know what they are eating and the source of the produce. Sub-standard food, facility or cordiality will not be acknowledged in this new world. “Local, native and fresh produce will take precedence over frozen and imported ingredients. Moving a step beyond Provenance, people would like to know the cooking techniques employed, ie, pasteurising, thawing and other treatments for sanitising food. Overall, food hygiene best practices will be the new norm,” says Prashant Issar, co-founder, Ishaara, Mumbai.

Ingredients will be a key focus. The source and the origin and all its parts!  “Zero wastage by following the root to shoot​  con­cept will definitely be in vogue. This is something we have always followed at all our restaurants and now with people cooking a lot at home due to the lockdown, I see a lot of peop­le posting on zero wastage on their soci­al media and sharing innovative ways of using this concept,” says Zorawar Kalra, owner and Managing Director, Massive Restaurants Pvt Ltd.


The community dining or social dining concept that was catching up well, where strangers could meet and enjoy a meal or drinks together, may not be a favourite anymore. Social distancing will lead to changes in restaurant seating layout and design. “Show kitchens will be respected and chefs wearing a face mask in addition to the chef cap will be mandatory. Something on the lines of the DTF (Din Tai Fung),” adds Prashant Issar. Dining out in a busy cramped up restaurant will also change as diners would want distance between themselves and other tables around.  “Maintaining health and hygiene at the café will be our top priority. Walk-in guests are expected to be shaky and a little paranoid. We will therefore still maintain some distancing by reducing the seating capacity from 40 to 20, setting up tables far from each other so that people can enjoy their meals peacefully. We will also continue using gloves for table service,” says Anjali Mohan, Chef and Director at Danbro, Artisanal Boulangerie and Patisserie, New Delhi


Genetic research suggests that the lethal flu outbreak in history, the 1918 Spanish flu, grew inside poultry farms. The 2009 H1N1 virus initiated in pigs. “The most important change would be seeing people shying away from trying out non contemporary and exotic or game meats as they would think them to be a cause of further infections, this would cause a huge impact to the exotic meat/seafood industry and their jobs,” says Chef Apoorva Kunte, Executive Sous Chef, Marriott International, Sydney. 

These are extraordinary times. “One thing is for sure, with the extensive acceptance that coronavirus initiated in an outlandish meat market in China, there has been an enormous customer reconsideration around food,” says Dinesh Arora, Chief MD, Eastman colour Restaurant Pvt Ltd Pullman in Delhi has an in-house farm of 5,000 sq ft. The herb garden now produces vegetables and there are plans to build a facility that will takes care of all their vegetable needs. “At Pluck, we will focus on microgreens, fresh seasonal produce, sustainable farming and endless varieties of greens,” says, Chef Neeraj Tyagi, Director of Culinary, Pullman & Novotel New Delhi Aerocity. All in all, it is going to be a stretched road for the hospitality industry, but there is a bright light at the end of every tunnel.