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The concept of food sharing may have a possibility to turn off diners: Dr Siddhant Bhargava, Fitness & Nutritional Scientist, Co-Founder, Food Darzee

Sunday, July 19, 2020, 10:56 Hrs  [IST]
Asmita Mukherjee | Hyderabad

The coronavirus has affected our lives in several ways. It is a fact that food trends and eating habits will not be the same even when COVID-19 subsides. Asmita Mukherjee spoke with Dr Siddhant Bhargava, Fitness and Nutritional Scientist, Co-Founder of Food Darzee to know about the changing consumer habits in the ‘new normal’.

In the current scenario, do you think that streamlining of menus and inventory according to the demand is required? What kind of demand do you foresee?

In the wake of the current situation, cautious consumers have begun to embrace the fact that ‘health is wealth’. Hence streamlining the existing menus towards incorporating wholesome meals is definitely the need-of-the-hour. Many brands are considering modification of their menus expecting that consumers might want to opt for healthy immunity-boosting edibles, post the lockdown phase. The sharp increase in the scenario of people working from home and sudden fluctuation in eating habits has encouraged the restructuring of menus and inventories. The restaurant menus might now comprise of healthier and locally procured ingredients like haldi, kokam, ajwain and lemongrass which will all facilitate in combating any seasonal ailments.

Will we see the exclusion of shareable dishes on the menu?

Even though the mandates of following social distancing will slowly be lifted sometime in the upcoming years, the concept of food sharing may still have a possibility to turn off diners startled by the crisis. Hence post the pandemic, most restaurants whose menu comprised of many shareable dishes, might plan to remodel to the appetizer-entree-dessert format, which will be focussed more on serving salads and sandwiches. Another important point to consider is that while consumers are changing their food habits to contend with the pandemic, it is possible that some of these habits might still stick. Hence, to suit the preferences of these customers, restaurants won’t completely exclude shareable from their menus but instead will include enhanced formats.

Are restaurateurs rethinking their price points, in the current climate? Is Food Darzee also thinking on similar lines?

Rethinking their value points, to reach profit margins amidst the pandemic, many restaurants have turned quickly to takeout. Owing to the fact that our menu is in tandem with the dine-in experience, we are offering wholesome pre-cooked customised meals to go. This is a profitable venture for us since we are enjoying a good amount of corporate clientele, who are opting for our on-demand customized food delivery services.

How important has the packaging of food delivery become? Will the packaging define the menu in the coming days? 

In the pre-COVID 19 days, it was easy to think of packaging as being insignificant but during the current pandemic climate, it essentially it has a vital role to play. With a sharp increase in the demand for online food, medicine and other essential commodities, proper packaging has become extremely crucial. A lack of packaging during this time can lead to a significant disruption in the supply chain. In the present times which are driven by consumer fears related to COVID-19, food delivery services have totally defined the restaurant menus. Consumer anxieties have resulted in amplified demand for safe tamper-evident packaging that will avert the food either liquid or solid from spilling, thus ensuring that its safety reaches the customers.

Do you think that the coronavirus will change the food habits of consumers?

Yes, definitely the pandemic has managed to change the food and dietary habits of consumers. The virus has made the consumers more conscious about their health and hence has laid the focus on healthy eating. The nationwide lockdown that has compelled the people to stay within the confines of their home has contributed to people now preferring to relish on the joys of immunity-boosting home-cooked foods. The lockdown has managed to mark the start of a wholesome relationship with food for many people. This is a clear indication of the fact that as the lockdown starts opening up, the sales of immunity-boosting edibles is surely going to double up. The diners who would initially prefer indulging in unhealthy eating at restaurants will now prefer switching onto a healthy menu focussing more on organic edibles in the pursuit of boosting their immunity levels.

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