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Hindu Press International
Tweaking Junk Food for India's Vegetarians
on 2013/8/7 18:48:55 ( 949 reads )

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NEW DEHLI , INDIA, July 24, 2013(Afaqs): A McD outlet in Vaishno Devi, a veg-only KFC outlet in Gujarat, a Snickers bar for vegetarians. International brands will do just about anything to find their way into Indian hearts.

Restaurateurs often say "Patrons don't eat what you serve. You serve them what they want to eat." This whole "tweak or perish" maxim is something those in the food business have come to swear by. As an eatery or foreign franchise owner, if you don't alter your menu as per the local palate, you may as well get ready to shut shop. This rule becomes even more sacrosanct in the Indian context, where a large part of the population is vegetarian.

While chocolate brand Snickers recently launched its fully vegetarian bar in India, several multinational quick service chains such as McDonalds, KFC, Subway, Dominos and Pizza Hut have been busy adding vegetarian dishes to their menus and opening "exclusive vegetarian" outlets. Today, a larger part of the revenue for these chains comes from their vegetarian menus.

Interestingly, vegetarian dishes form barely 10-15 per cent of their menus, catering to just 3 per cent of the US population. The Indian scenario, on the other hand, is completely opposite; between 30-40 per cent of the country's total population is vegetarian.The writing on the wall is clear: if you have to sell food products in India, then it has to be done the Indian way.

When these multinational eatery chains entered India nearly two decades ago, they quickly adapted themselves to suit Indian tastes. The major task ahead of them then was to create an acceptance of their product among the masses and establish a smooth supply chain. Through a series of marketing campaigns, they achieved this task and the challenge they face now is to bring more innovations to their menus and attract more walk-ins.

Dominos, a pizza brand with over 500 outlets, entered India 17 years ago. Today it earns more than 50 per cent of its revenue from its vegetarian menu.Though KFC (originally Kentucky Fried Chicken) is synonymous with chicken, the brand is apparently increasing its focus on its vegetarian items. The brand aims to increase its vegetarian portfolio and consequently, its revenues. Similarly, Pizza Hut, sister offshoot of KFC, has a menu that is nearly 60 per cent vegetarian.

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