Food of the new decade wouldn't be dramatically different from what we saw over the last two years. Lifestyle choices would accelerate the shift towards healthy eating. Those who can afford would choose artisanal produce over industrial options. There would also be a focus on micro cuisines, home chefs, and cloud kitchens. For any restaurant business, home delivery is now an important revenue generator.
Here are the key trends that would play out over the next 10 years, driving the business of food:
"What will set the tone for the next decade is the rise of vegetarianism and veganism," says Michelin Star Chef Alfred Prasad, who is the Mentor Chef at The Oberoi, New Delhi's Omya restaurant. "It has become a lifestyle choice among the millennials. They are much more careful about the impact on the environment, including their food choices. The young are far more decisive in their choices," he adds. People are opting for vegan cheese in places such as south Delhi; takeaway vegan and gluten-free companies are sprouting.
People want to know where their food comes from. This will disrupt the supply chain as it exists today. In products such as fish and meat, companies that offer greater visibility in how the animals are raised, for instance, are gaining traction. A related trend in the rise of millets. "The so-called ancient grains that we talk about is set to grow a lot more. Rice uses ten times more water than millets. Therefore, ethical choices are set to gain momentum," Chef Prasad says.
People will increasingly travel to eat. And this is giving rise to micro-cuisines or a greater appetite for regional cuisines. "We, Indians, are happier to discover regional food, which hadn't happened for the longest time. Cuisine-oriented travel is now driving Indians. People are looking for homestays and getting a taste of the culture and zooming in a little more on lesser-known micro-cuisines," Chef Prasad says. Even luxury hotels have now caught on to this idea. Recently, The Oberoi, Gurgaon, showcased the micro-regional cuisine of undivided Bengal - present day Bengal, Bangladesh, Assam, Bihar, Odisha and Burma. "The idea is to collaborate with someone who has a story to share. Second, it is a motivator for my team. They pick up new skills. The third is the introduction of new ingredients. New ingredients can create magical moments," Manish Sharma, Executive Sous Chef at The Oberoi, Gurgaon, says. The Bengal showcase, for instance, introduced Kalonunia rice, which is grown in the foothills of places such as Dooars, Jalpaiguri and Coochbehar. On an earlier occasion, Sharma introduced black garlic, grown locally, into the hotel's cuisine.
Home delivery from cloud kitchens would continue to get stronger given the disruptions food-tech platforms have ushered in. Riyaaz Amlani, the CEO and MD of Impresario Entertainment & Hospitality, which owns brands such as Social, says that home delivery is currently a Rs 20 crore business for the firm. "In a couple of years, it would be a Rs 150 crore vertical. We have also created a few brands dedicated to home delivery - in burgers, in Chinese, in Italian, and in sandwiches," he says. The ordering-in behaviour is very different from eating out. People go out for experiences but prefer brands that offer value when it comes to home delivery. "It is also a different business - the input costs are different, the discovery and delivery costs are different. The overheads are less. So products are priced differently online versus offline," Amlani explains.