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Food and Beverage 2009-09-22

Add Chinese Flavour To Your Business

Though the ties between India and China are somewhat strained, Chinese cuisine sure does rank amongst being the most favoured foreign cuisine in India. Thought still at a very nascent stage, it is growing at fairly steady rate putting forth great busines

By Neha Malhotra Sub Editor, Franchise India Holdings Limited, Web Division

Food is always looked at as a very lucrative business option with immense categories to invest in. As  Lokesh Kumar, Associate Vice President – Hospitality, Technopak Advisors Pvt. Ltd puts it, “The Indian food industry is pegged at $6 billion, though just 10 per cent of it is organised and is growing at a rate of 20- 25 per cent.” The growth numbers of the industry seem compelling enough for you to be a part of it.  However the Chinese food industry is doing great for itself.

Escalating significance

Chinese food is seen being popular since always and has risen from being a food eaten at local hangouts to fine dine restaurants.  This helps to paint a picture of the growth witnessed by the industry in the past few years. The increase in the number of people eating out, increase in disposable incomes and change in the tastes and preferences etc are some factors offering the industry the needed boost.  As put by Puja Mahajan, Director, Unitas Foods, Yum! Yum! Dimsum, “There are a number of factors such as popularity, familiarity with the cuisine, spicy and flavourful, health angle and with more Indians travelling to Asian countries the exposure to oriental food is growing. The cuisine is very popular with younger people age groups of 18-35.” Yo China! – The pioneers in Chinese food in India and amongst the first few to initiate the cuisine have played a very significant role in creating the space for organised Chinese food players in the country. Ashish Kapur, Managing Director, Yo! China says, “Six years back when we opened the first outlet we aimed at making it aspirational. People were already familiar with the industry; we just brought in aspiration by offering beautifully designed restaurants, value for money and space for the young. Chowmein is one dish you can find everywhere. It is not that the cuisine is what has become popular now; savouring it in an organised format is what has gained significance. Organised retail franchise has also contributed in the increase in the visibility and popularity of the cuisine.” For Kumar the industry is growing because of the increase in awareness, varying eating habits, time for experimenting with new cuisines, increase in purchasing power and convenient customer friendly formats available for customers.

Franchising aiding your business

As the industry forms a small percentage of the organised food industry, franchising opportunities is aiding it to stretch its reach all through the country. In words of Kumar, “Franchising is helping the industry grow at a faster pace.” For businesses also it is a preferred choice as it is a much easier way to foster than budding on their own.  Mahajan says, “Franchising helps in achieving exponential growth. Franchising comes with the knowledge of running a business successfully. Entrepreneurs are attracted to the food business but they do not have the knowledge to run the business, franchising fills this gap.” Yum! Yum! Dimsum has franchisees as partners, who invest capital and time for their brand. For Yo China! Chinese franchising is a key pillar for the growth of their outlets. Kapur says, “We strongly believe in the entrepreneurial spirit of Indian people in the country and that is where we believe it is happening.”

Future prospects

As the sector has not been optimally explored, it offers a plethora of opportunities for others to venture in to this industry. With lots more to explore we can at one end witness expansion strategies from the existing franchising players while on the other hand, we can also find new players entering the sector as the popularity for Chinese food grows.  Kapur says, “I foresee Chinese food as being one of the most favoured cuisines in the country. Within the sector I see the growth of channels like delivery express, impulse food, take home and dine in. It will in times to come be a nationally well accepted industry.”  Positioning yourself in the market will play a very important role for the new entrants in the sector.  Kumar says, “With every other cuisine that is introduced, there are buyers for it. What you need to keep in mind is where the market is and how you position your product and gain market share.”

So if food franchising is a sector you wish to be a part of, try Chinese food… Immense opportunities are in store for you!

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