Food and Beverage Jul, 14 2015

Japanese food franchise gains popularity in India

India is a rich market as far as investing in food business is concerned. Among nearly uncountable varieties of cuisines available across India, Japanese food is testing the tasting buds of food lovers in India by marking a distinct position in their desi

By Upant Sharma
Feature Writer
Japanese food franchise gains popularity in India

India and Japan have signed an agreement to double Japan’s investment in India over the next five years as well as to boost bilateral trade and investment. In addition, going by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development new released data, India ranks ninth largest recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2014. According to the recent FICCI report, food is the major item in the consumption basket when measured on the distribution of routine expenditure. In rural areas around 55 % and in urban areas 45% of the total expenditure of people belongs to the food segment. The logic behind the improved business environment is the increase in the value of investor’s investment, followed by substantial growth.  While, as per India Food Services Report 2013 by India’s leading management consulting firm –Technopak, “The total size of the food service industry in India was estimated at US$ 48 billion in 2013 and projected to grow to US$ 78 billion by 2018, at a CAGR of 11 per cent. The fine dining segment was growing at a healthy rate of around 15 per cent and the fine dine market size was estimated to be US$ 95 million in 2013, forecasted to reach US$ 195 million by 2018.”

Looking at the changing market trends and consumers becoming more receptive towards eating out twice in a week or trying out new cuisines for a change, it’s now, high time for food chains offering Japanese cuisines to flourish in India and garner hefty returns.

Entry of Japanese Food Brands in Indian market

In such a diversified nation like India, there is ample opportunity for Japanese food providers to fortify their position and multiply.  Benihana is a Doral, Florida-based American restaurant chain that recently entered the Indian market. Another such player in the same segment is Middle East franchise chain of Japanese cuisine Sumo Sushi & Bento that is all set to foray in the Indian market.

Speaking over the prospects of Japanese food in India, Alpha Maiava, Director - Franchise Sales and International Growth, Sumo Sushi & Bento, says: “For Japanese food, India is a very special place. Many Japanese dishes are vegetarian and Japan is one of the few nations worldwide that has truly mastered the art of delicious and premium non meat dishes. This is an ideal situation for our restaurant since we flourish in markets where there is a demand for quality sushi and market catered for families and casual dining.”

Diljeet S Bindra, General Manager, Benihana India opines, “These days edo–style of Japanese food is gaining grounds in India, especially raw food, means the dishes are served with uncooked ingredients. However, there are a few countable exclusive Japanese restaurants, but these days a lot of cafes and restaurants are introducing Japanese cuisines in their menus. With even Japanese burgers coming into the picture, the number of exclusive Japanese outlets is expected to rise in the coming days especially in the big cities like Mumbai and Delhi.”

Target Locations for expansion

Alpha Maiava says, “In the coming years, potential entrepreneurs may opt for having a franchise of a Japanese restaurant seeing the inclination of youths. We are also planning to expand via franchising route. Our expansion plans requires three master franchisees to own and operate in India that includes, three regions; first is North–East encompassing Jaipur, Gurgaon, Noida, New Delhi, Chandigarh, Udaipur, Ludhiana, Raipur & Kolkata. West – Central includes Vadodara, Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Ahmedabad, Goa, Bhopal and Indore. In the South, we aim at expanding in Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi, Vizag, Coimbatore and Bhuvaneshwar.”

Diljeet S Bindra says, “In the coming days, as the Japanese outlets grow in number, having a franchise of Japanese restaurant will be a safe business plan for potential entrepreneurs. Our prime targets are big cities like Mumbai and Bangalore.”

Customisation is the way to go

Japanese restaurants these days are making every possible effort to twist their menu as per the demand of the Indian market that encompasses customers ranging from non-vegetarian to purely vegetarian and spendthrift to penny-wise. So, comprehending the demanding needs of the market, Japanese food providers are breaking the label of their cuisines as only non-vegetarian and expensive.

Alpha Maiava says: “In terms of our menu offering, we anticipated our India entry a year ago by increasing our vegetarian offerings which is popular with our existing health conscious and vegetarian customers in the markets we’re already in. On top of that, our experienced team of chefs put efforts into studying the local palate to see what kind of additions or edits we require to ensure it matches our local clientele’s taste buds. Apart from a large number of amazing fish dishes, as well as chicken and Japanese curries, Japanese is also a center of culinary excellence for vegetarian food and one of the staple foods in Sushi is rice.”

Popular Japanese retaurants in India

Japanese cuisines spreading pan-India

Alpha Maiava says, “India has enjoyed many years of economic growth and the youth have benefitted greatly. They have been able to travel, had access to education and international culture. Because of this they are open to a new range of experiences and Japanese food including sushi. What’s even more exciting is that when the youth introduces their family to Sushi and growth in demand in Japanese food continues to snowball throughout the country.” Over the popularity of Japanese food, Diljeet S Bindra says, “The credit behind the popularity of Japanese food goes to the development of Japanese culture over the five years due to the growing tourism sector and cross cultural activities with a large number of MNC’s opening properties in India.”

With the growing population, disposable incomes, urge to taste something different and, above all, inclination towards having hygienic stuff, the Japanese cuisines are expected to make a mark in the race among Chinese, Italian, and Continental cuisines.  It’s a promising call to potential entrepreneurs who not only can start a Japanese food business but also, get a franchise of a Japanese restaurant for hard-to-believe returns.

Related: The Curious case of Shree Rathnam

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