The Future of F&B

With the turn of last century, the country has been witnessing exponential growth. The great Indian middle class, equipped with disposable income, is increasingly dining out, particularly in urban areas. The frequency of eating out and experimentation with cuisines and concepts, has given the F&B services sector such a fillip that this industry is currently estimated to be worth USD 48 billion in terms of overall market size.

These numbers are exciting and paint a rosy picture of the future of the F&B industry in India. But I can see another side of the coin. This growth is primarily driven by the people between 20 and 25 years of age. While these millennial are thronging various restaurants, are they adding any value to the ecosystem?

The new generation is growing up on adulterated and packaged food. They lack the understanding of quality food.  A restaurant visit is driven by having few drinks rather than enjoying a good food. The meal is generally an accompaniment of drinks rather than the other way around. Restaurateurs also understand this phenomenon, and are opening jazzy drinking places. Last month when the Honourable Court enforced ‘highway ban’ on liquor, so called restaurant districts which used to be abuzz earlier were deserted.

Another reason of thriving F&B industry is ‘Social Media’. People want to be seen in all happening places, do check-in’s and post pictures. The fear of missing out is huge.

As a country, we have such rich culture. Every household has a different recipe for the same dish. Our regional cuisines are so enriched, but they haven’t got their due. Renowned blogger Kalyan Karmarkar, during his book launch in Gurgaon last Saturday, said that “regional restaurant’s popularity is restricted because they haven’t evolved as per the times. Today’s generation wants clean toilets, air-conditioned dining room good collection of liquor. They are not willing to buy stories anymore.” But is it right. Can’t a great food be a reason enough to drive down to a restaurant or food place?

Last week when I went for the lunch at Olive Bar & Kitchen, I was saddened to see every other table had pizzas and some drinks. On the contrary, our table was full of amazing creations created from this year’s summer menu. A chef puts all his life’s experience in creating a menu and when patrons don’t acknowledge his work, it discourages him.

Do we want to our chefs to just cook or create innovative recipes?? The future of F&B industry is in our hands. We need to learn to appraise good food.

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