Saturday, February 14, 2009


People of Indian origin are one of the most widely traveled national groups, with their presence spanning all the continents. While intellectually people move towards western countries seeking greener pastures, others settle for less remunerative skill based positions in Middle East, South Asian and African countries. By far most affluent NRI population can be seen in United States and many of them have made that country practically their home, though keep some roots back in India. In almost all states in the US one can come across Temples, Restaurants and Grocery Stores specializing in Indian customs, traditions and foods. Increasing popularity of Indian foods can be gauged by the fact that the proportion of local population eating in these places is on the rise. Practically all ethnic foods of origin from different regions in India are offered in these eateries to meet the demands of people hailing from there. A case for institutionalizing and promoting Indian foods through branded chain out lets similar to Taco Bell (Mexican Foods) was made earlier by this blogger realizing the potential for such a venture.

Many Indian restaurants do offer 'take out' type of service where unitized, disposable, microwave-safe and insulated containers are used to supply the products to take home. But no one had thought of home delivery mode like Pizza delivery system well established in the US. Probably the relatively low cost of Indian foods compared to American foods might be the constraining factor coming the way of such new services. Besides Indian foods usually are very messy to handle, too diverse for standardization and made up of too many varieties. In India street foods, mobile canteens, home delivery service are in vogue bringing the customers nearer to the caterer. Relatively low cost of labor in India is one possible reason why such practices become prevalent in the country.

In many towns and cities in India people going to work in distant places either carry with them packed lunch or arrange for picking up freshly cooked foods by delivery personnel from their home and deliver to the work place. The most organized delivery service in the country exists in Mumbai where thousands of people are involved like in an assembly line taking foods in well designed tiffin boxes from thousands of homes, travel through the suburban trains, carry the tiffin boxes to different offices and deliver to the right person without any mix up. The wonderful system also brings the tiffin box of each individual back to the home from where it was picked up before evening. It is almost like the postal system of assembling, sorting and delivering the mails from different destinations. Probably this is a unique institution not found any where else in the world.

Recently one of the groups specialized in Indian cuisines in the US is reported to have started a lunch delivery service that supplies a standardized meal in unitized containers after getting on-line orders from offices or homes in some areas in the US, modeled on the delivery system by Pizza Hut and other Pizza makers. Interestingly the standard meal offered for both vegetarian and non-veg clients has typical preparations like soup,curries and subjis, rice, nan, dal and chutney for a reasonable price of $ 7.50 to 8.50 which average NRI can afford easily. Extra delicacies like Samosa , Pakoda, Beverages and desserts are also supplied at extra cost. Since this new concept is being taken up by one of the most reputed caterers in the East Coast, there is every chance that the venture will succeed. More such ventures in other areas are likely to emerge depending on the success of this endeavor. One can also expect such services to be available for breakfast and dinner too.

What about such services in India? In some cities and towns a primitive delivery system do exist but not in an organized fashion. Grocery delivery through telephone orders is already popular in many places and even super market players are providing such a service if the order value is above a particular bench mark. May be, the time is ripe now for organized caterers also to get into this act and provide the consumers the delivery service which will help them to establish loyalty and increased frequency of visits to their establishments.


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