From Indian chefs serving the country’s signature dishes at diplomatic dinner meetings to high-profile mergers, acquisitions, expansions and investments, the food industry in India is witnessing interesting times.
The online food industry may be in its nascent stage, but experts believe it has seen an exponential growth. According to a recent report published on the Indian Brand Equity Foundation’s website, the organised food business in India is worth US$ 48 billion, of which food delivery is valued at US$ 15 billion. With online food delivery players like Zomato, TinyOwl and Swiggy building scale through partnerships, the organised food business has a huge potential and a promising future, says the report.
The Boston Consultancy Group had earlier this year said the market size of food in India was expected to reach Rs 42 lakh crore by 2020, from Rs 23 lakh crore in 2014. And the rise of online food start-ups, aiming to tap the millions of internet users in India, has a lot to do with this growth.
Let’s take a look at the developments the online food industry witnessed over the last few years.
Acquisitions and expansions
While Foodpanda acquired food ordering portals TastyKhana and Just Eat India to bolster its presence in India, restaurant search service Zomato acquired Urbanspoon to enter the US. Zomato has its presence in 22 countries now; and it’s no longer confined to restaurant search, having started delivering food too.
Papa John’s India became the third-largest pizza chain in India, after Domino’s and Pizza Hut.
Food ordering start-ups
Earlier this year, chef Ajay Chopra of MasterChef India fame, came up with his own website, offering a freshly prepared ‘do it yourself’ meal kit for a variety of his signature dishes. Currently serving only in Mumbai, Burgundybox.in comes with prepped ingredients, including spices and gravies, and an easy to follow recipe.
Going a step further, Cyberchef.com in Gurgaon and Mumbai has started delivering fully home-cooked food, roping in a number of home cooks and giving them a business opportunity. The website also takes bulk orders for special occasions.
There are also websites that deliver your grocery home now. While established websites such as Amazon.in and Zansaar.com are the obvious go-to places, new entrants like Localbanya.com and Grofers.com have also been instant hits.
Online tiffin service
Some entrepreneurs have taken the popular tiffin service online. While websites like Yummytiffin.com (Mumbai) and Homecurry.com (Delhi) have been around for some time, the sector has seen several new sites mushroom in the past couple of years.
At websites like Corporatedhaba.com (Delhi), you can order weekly or monthly meals to be delivered to your office on your working days.
To stand apart, and understanding the fact that your daily food should be healthy and nutritious, there are iTiffin.in (Bangalore), Caloriesmart.in (Gurgaon) and Caloriecare.com (Mumbai) that cook and send a daily tiffin of only healthy fares.
Food on the go
Now, how many of us dread a long-distance train journey mainly because the quality of food served on trains does not generate confidence. Tapping into the potential this sector offers, a number of websites have sprung up of late offering to send fresh food to your seat in your coach. These websites, such as Travelkhana.com and Yatrachef.com, take down your train and PNR numbers and deliver your chosen meal at the station specified by you. For the purpose, understandably, they have tie-ups with different eating joints at different places where the trains stop. Other such websites include Comesum.com, Railrider.in, Merafoodchoice.com etc.
Rebranding time for recipe sites
The original food websites were all about recipes. To bring exclusivity and engage more readers, recipe sites are now coming up with attractive offers. Betterbutter.in, for example, invites you to upload your original recipes, and once you have uploaded 20 recipes, the website will make a cookbook out of them, professionally published by a printing press, and send you a complimentary copy.
Some websites (non-Indian) have been around for some time now that ask you to list the ingredients you have at home and then suggest the items you can cook with them. Maybe, some start-ups will grab this near-vacant slot in India’s cyber space.
Following published recipes always comes with this peculiar problem of not having all the ingredients required for a particular dish. To address this issue, a number of websites abroad tell you where you can source all the ingredients from. This requires tie-ups with local stores — another area Indian start-ups can look up to tap.