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Research 2014-10-29

Meals on wheels: An upsurge in F&B segment

Many players in this space have set out to redefine the train journey of 1.5 billion long distance train travellers in the country.

By Deputy Features Editor
Meals on wheels: An upsurge in F&B segment

Peeping out of a train, enjoying the nature’s beauty, munching and tasting food as the train moves through its destination is loved by Indian for ages. But making sure that the food available inside the train is healthy and hygienic was still a question mark before players like Travelkhana and YatraChef entered into the food on wheel segment, providing an option to eat from restaurants of one’s own choice.

The game changer

Players like YatraChef and TravelKhana works through a simple automated process. The ordering process is very simple considering the convenience of passengers. YatraChef which was started by Arun Rajan when he suffered a bad bout of food poisoning while travelling in a train from Goa to Mumbai. Rajan was then working as an Operations Manager with an e-commerce company in Australia. Soon after the incident, Rajan together with his friend Rameez Ashraf started working on providing food to the passengers travelling through train.

YatraChef is currently serving at over 120+ stations all over India. And is now focusing on increasing the number of stations as well as the number of restaurants at each station to give the customers a much wider palette to choose from.

At the same time, Travel Khana, which is an initiative by Pushpinder Singh, follows the same track. The food ordering major has over 600 restaurant partners across 180 locations in India except Northeast region.

“We at Travelkhana had set out to redefine the train journey of 1.5 billion long distance train travelers. We are proud that we have been able to create an altogether new market that did not exist before and have successfully brought attention to a subject that was highly neglected earlier,” says Pushpinder Singh, Co Founder & CEO, Travel Khana.com.

How it works?

Passengers can visit the websites of these major players and enter their journey details or PNR in the required field. The system will automatically generate their travel route and help deliver the food packets on their bearths with a choice of their own food and restaurant.

The passengers have to choose the particular station they want their food to be delivered, check the menu, place the order and wait for the food at the selected station. The company also provides manual assistance to passengers through its multilingual call centre and chat support.

The system also tracks the train in real time which help these companies to precisely coordinate the deliveries done by the client restaurants, thereby eliminating the error rate in the delivery system.

“Packaging is done by client restaurants. Thalis are packed in specially made packaging custom. Other foods are neatly packed in casserole or plastic containers as per the standards set by each of the restaurants with extra focus given on maintaining the freshness and hygiene of the food,” says Arun Rajan, CEO, YatraChef.

Challenges faced

The players in the segment faced a lot of challenges at the initial stage. From communicating to a restaurateur and getting his restaurant on the board to track the train and deliver the food on time.

“There are lots of logistics challenges when our primary intent is to enable delivery of food on a moving entity like a train with a delivery window as small as 2 – 5 minutes. Presently, delivery is being taken care of by our partner restaurants. We have developed a system which keeps track of the running status of the train in real time and updates the partner restaurants on the delay/running status of the train where the delivery is to be done,” elaborates Rajan.

Various other players have cropped up with such unconventional concept and have changed the industry’s culinary landscape.

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