India: The next 'Fast Food Nation'?
This Pizza Hut in Chennai demonstrates the expanding reach of fast food chains. (Getty Images)
October 25th, 2011
05:03 PM ET

India: The next 'Fast Food Nation'?

By Jason Overdorf, GlobalPost

At the DLF Place mall in the upscale South Delhi neighborhood of Saket, shoppers and employees sit more or less side-by-side in a new “desi” food court, digging into traditional Indian dishes ranging from biryani to dosas to seekh kebabs.

There's something for everybody — at many tables three generations are sitting down together. But that's not the reason these traditional upstarts have succeeded in storming what was once the bastion of western brands like McDonald's and Pizza Hut.

Some of the city's most famous restaurants are represented here — some of them a century old — transformed by smart uniforms, cheery signage and shining show kitchens to look every bit as clean, efficient and modern as their multinational competitors. Welcome to the future of Indian fast food.

“[Quick Service Restaurants or] QSRs are quite successful in India,” said Arun Chanda, founder of New Delhi-based Mint Hospitality Consultancy. “Over the last five years, a lot of Indian companies have started getting into the franchising model and expanding into different cities.”

Credit marketers at DLF for inducing popular brands like Karim's, Nizam's, Moti Mahal, Nathu's Sweets, Rajdhani and Sagar Ratna — which had already launched multiple sit-down restaurants around New Delhi — to experiment with nascent fast-food franchises.

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But the revolution is already underway across the country, as global chains seek to woo a broader cross-section of customers by incorporating traditional spices and ingredients into their menus. And local upstarts have begun to attract deep-pocketed financiers in the bid to build nationwide fast-food chains of their own.

“Even people who are into the five-star hotel business are thinking of getting into the QSR concept,” said Chanda.

According to Euromonitor and market-research firm RNCOS, India's $13 billion fast-food market is already growing 25-30 percent a year, and global players like Domino's, McDonald's and Yum Brands (KFC and Pizza Hut) are pushing into second- and third-tier cities.

Hardcastle Restaurants, development licensee for McDonald's in India, is planning a massive expansion, doubling its India stores over the next three years with an investment of $100 million. Meanwhile, Yum Brands plans to open 1,000 outlets — half of them KFC restaurants — on its way to $1 billion in revenue from India over the next four years.

Other multinationals like Burger King, Cinnabon, Dunkin Donuts, and Starbucks are not far behind — with stores already on the ground or aggressive launch plans underway.

With 60 percent of the Indian population currently under 30, it's no mystery why.

Call it irrational exuberance if you want, but this summer Indian investors judged Jubilant Foodworks — which owns the franchise rights to Domino's and Dunkin Donuts in India and sold about $150 million worth of pizzas last year — to be nearly as valuable as the U.S.-based parent company.

“We've now been in India for over 15 years, and we've actually seen the change right before our eyes,” said Amit Jatia, vice chairman of McDonald’s India. "The market is changing very significantly. People are eating out far more often than before, and I think the availability of international QSR brands has brought about that change.”

But as the success of DLF's “desi food court” suggest, the future of fast food in India isn't about pizza and burgers.

In deference to Indian religious sentiments, McDonald's doesn't even offer its signature Big Mac here, or any other beef or pork products. Instead, it offers the Chicken Maharaja Mac and items like the McAloo Tikki burger (a mashup of potatoes and peas, deep-fried and served in a bun), the McVeggie and the Paneer Salsa Wrap — along with the Filet-O-Fish, McChicken sandwich and Chicken McNuggets.

Similarly, Domino's and Pizza Hut don't offer any beef toppings, and offer a wide range of pizzas that incorporate traditional Indian ingredients and spices, such as the Domino's Keema Do Pyazza pizza, with onions, spicy minced goat meat and jalapenos, or Pizza Hut's Kadai Paneer pizza, with onions, green pepper, paprika, coriander and tofu-like unaged farmer's cheese. Food industry experts say these flavors are here to sta   y.

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“We believe that we must respect the local culture. Therefore, around the globe we do products that are relevant for the local consumer,” said Jatia. “But we want uniquely McDonald's products. For example, we don't anticipate making a McDosa, but we have a Spicy Paneer burger. That has resonated very well with the Indian consumer. I feel that for global brands, a blend of local and international is the way forward.”

At the same time, Indian entrepreneurs are cracking the fast-food franchise model.

“We wanted to get the fundamentals right before we started expanding,” said Kiran Nadkari the CEO of Kaati Zone, a Bangalore-based chain. “Once you've got the back-end in place, you can expand rapidly. But during those early stages there's not much investment capital. So, for example, I bootstrapped for three years, from 2004 to 2007.”

Now, though, homegrown fast-food companies are expanding rapidly, and some are beginning to attract funding from venture-capital and private-equity firms. For instance, Kaati Zone — which sells Kolkata-style kathi rolls (spiced goat, chicken or vegetarian fillings wrapped in fried flatbread) — plans to add 80-plus new outlets to its 17 existing stores by 2013, with venture capital financing from Accel India, Draper Investment Company and Erasmic Ventures.

Mumbai-based Jumbo King — a 43-store franchise business that offers Maharashtra's famous vada pav (spicy, deepfried mashed potato on a bun) — plans to open 250 outlets this year. And Sagar Ratna — a 25-year-old South Indian food chain which bridges sit-down restaurants and fast-food outlets — recently sold a controlling stake in the company to New York-based India Equity Partners for $36 million. It plans to add 200 outlets to its 70 existing restaurants over the next three or four years.

“Even Jubilant took 15 years between when they started and their IPO,” said Nadkari. “Now, the valuation of Jubilant [which this summer nearly matched that of NYSE-listed Domino's Pizza Inc.] is showing investors that anything that's touching Indian consumers is hot, and they can get extraordinary returns from this.”

That makes India a burgeoning fast-food paradise — where you can get a six-course Rajasthani “thali,” or set meal, in 5 minutes flat, and then dash up the stairs or across the street to top it off with a McFlurry.

But it also means that someday soon, if all goes well, you just might be seeing some of these brands — or at least these flavors — at a shopping mall or street corner near you.

“We already export some of our products to the Middle East,” said Jatia. “We've done a lot of innovation work in vegetarian products, and there's a lot of interest across the McDonald's countries.”

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Topics: Food • India

soundoff (352 Responses)
  1. Qaid_e_Azam

    PAKISTANI PLAGIARISM IS MANIFEST AS

    @krm1007, alidongfong , AmitabhB , Katrinak , DilipKumar ALL SAME PAKIS USING ALIASES :(

    COPYING TEXT FROM BBC SITE AS THEY CAN'T EVEN WRITE A SENTENCE PROPERLY

    F_AGGOT PAKIS : INTERNET IS AN AMERICAN JEWISH INVENTION AND YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO BE HERE

    ALL PAKIS IN THE WEST NEED TO BE PARCELED WITH GOATS TO SWAT VALLEY

    CATAPULT PAKIS OFF THE DECK TO SWAT VALLEY

    AMERICAN DRONES AWAIT THEM

    October 30, 2011 at 8:19 am | Reply
  2. Qaid_e_Azam

    PAKISTANIS ARE PATHOLOGICAL LIARS ACCORDING TO CIA OFFICER IN BILL MAHER INTERVIEW :(

    paki plagiarists : === @krm1007, alidongfong , AmitabhB , Katrinak , DilipKumar ALL SAME PAKIS USING ALIASES

    COPYING TEXT FROM BBC SITE AS THEY CAN'T EVEN WRITE A SENTENCE PROPERLY

    F_AGGOT PAKIS : INTERNET IS AN AMERICAN JEWISH INVENTION AND YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO BE HERE

    ALL PAKIS IN THE WEST NEED TO BE PARCELED WITH GOATS TO SWAT VALLEY

    CATAPULT PAKIS OFF THE DECK TO SWAT VALLEY

    AMERICAN DRONES AWAIT THEM

    October 30, 2011 at 8:21 am | Reply
  3. Qaid_e_Azam

    Amnesty International is calling for an impartial investigation into mass graves found in Bangladesh :( :( :(

    it found 200000 r.a.p.e.s by pakistan army in 1971 war

    it also found 3 million mulims had been murdered in bangladeh by pakistani army

    Amnesty International is calling for an impartial investigation into mass graves found in BALOCHISTAN ( ILLEGALLY CONTROLLED BY PAKISTAN)

    10000 BALOHI MEN AND CHILDREN HAVE DISAPPEARED IN THE LAST DECADE, ISI IS BLAMED FOR KILLING THEM BY AMNESTY REPORT :(

    PAKISTAN AND MOST OF ITS MUSLIMS ARE TERROR BREEDERS

    October 30, 2011 at 8:23 am | Reply
  4. Qaid_e_Azam

    1971 Bangladesh atrocities

    Beginning with the start of Operation Searchlight on 25 March 1971 and continuing throughout the Bangladesh Liberation War, there were widespread violations of human rights in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) perpetrated by the Pakistan Army, with support from local political and religious militias, especially against Hindus. Time reported a high ranking U.S.
    official as saying "It is the most incredible, calculated thing since the days of the Nazis in Poland.

    Bangladeshi authorities claim that 3 million people were killed,while the Hamoodur Rahman Commission, an official Pakistan Government investigation, put the figure as low as 26,000 civilian casualties. The international media and reference books in English have also published figures which vary greatly from 200,000 to 3,000,000 for Bangladesh as a whole. A further eight to ten million people fled the country to seek safety in India.

    October 30, 2011 at 8:28 am | Reply
  5. Qaid_e_Azam

    1971 Bangladesh atrocities :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :(
    Beginning with the start of Operation Searchlight on 25 March 1971 and continuing throughout the Bangladesh Liberation War, there were widespread violations of human rights in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) perpetrated by the Pakistan Army, with support from local political and religious militias, especially against Hindus. Time reported a high ranking U.S.
    official as saying "It is the most incredible, calculated thing since the days of the Nazis in Poland.

    Bangladeshi authorities claim that 3 million people were killed,while the Hamoodur Rahman Commission, an official Pakistan Government investigation, put the figure as low as 26,000 civilian casualties. The international media and reference books in English have also published figures which vary greatly from 200,000 to 3,000,000 for Bangladesh as a whole. A further eight to ten million people fled the country to seek safety in India. :( :( :(

    October 30, 2011 at 8:29 am | Reply
  6. Qaid_e_Azam

    1971 Bangladesh atrocities
    :( :( :( :( :(
    Beginning with the start of Operation Searchlight on 25 March 1971 and continuing throughout the Bangladesh Liberation War, there were widespread violations of human rights in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) perpetrated by the Pakistan Army, with support from local political and religious militias, especially against Hindus. Time reported a high ranking U.S.
    official as saying "It is the most incredible, calculated thing since the days of the Nazis in Poland.

    Bangladeshi authorities claim that 3 million people were killed,while the Hamoodur Rahman Commission, an official Pakistan Government investigation, put the figure as low as 26,000 civilian casualties. The international media and reference books in English have also published figures which vary greatly from 200,000 to 3,000,000 for Bangladesh as a whole. A further eight to ten million people fled the country to seek safety in India.

    October 30, 2011 at 8:30 am | Reply
  7. Qaid_e_Azam

    JAI HIND , VICTORY TO THE IDEA OF INDIA
    JAI HIND , VICTORY TO THE IDEA OF SECULARISM
    JAI HIND , VICTORY TO THE IDEA OF TOLERANCE

    "While the clouds of war gather over Pakistan , the terrorist nation
    Let us swear allegiance to a land of India fthat's free and SECULAR,
    Let us be grateful for a land so brave,
    As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer,"
    Dissolve Pakistan, the nest of Terrorism and Bigotry
    STAND FOR UNITED INDIA AND THE FREE WORLD
    Land that we love,
    Stand beside her and guide her,
    Thru the night with a light from above
    From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, From Karachi to Calcutta

    JAI HIND , VICTORY TO THE IDEA OF INDIA

    UNITE INDIA AND DRIVE THE PAKIS TO SAUDI ARABIA
    And to the oceans, white with foam,
    STAND FOR UNITED INDIA AND THE FREE WORLD WITH AMERICA
    Our home sweet home.
    Home to the only Secular Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and everyone else,
    DEFEND INDIA AND THE WEST AGAINST PAKI TERRORISTS
    The land of the brave.
    Dissolve Pakistan, the nest of Terrorism and Bigotry against Non Muslim religions
    DEFEND INDIA, LOVE INDIA AND REGAIN OLD GREATER INDIA

    JAI HIND , VICTORY TO THE IDEA OF INDIA
    JAI HIND , VICTORY TO THE IDEA OF SECULARISM
    JAI HIND , VICTORY TO THE IDEA OF TOLERANCE

    October 30, 2011 at 8:33 am | Reply
  8. Qaid_e_Azam

    The minorities of Bangladesh, especially the Hindus, were specific targets of the Pakistan army.[1][2] There was widespread killing of Hindu males, and r.a.pes of women. More than 60% of the Bengali refugees who fled to India were Hindus.[53] It is not exactly known what percentage of the people killed by the Pakistan army were Hindus, but it is safe to say it was disproportionately high.[54] This widespread violence against Hindus was motivated by a policy to purge East Pakistan of what was seen as Hindu and Indian influences. The West Pakistani rulers identified the Bengali culture with Hindu and Indian culture, and thought that the eradication of Hindus would remove such influences from the majority Muslims in East Pakistan.[55]

    October 30, 2011 at 8:37 am | Reply
  9. Qaid_e_Azam

    The minorities of Bangladesh, especially the Hindus, were specific targets of the Pakistan army.[1][2] There was widespread killing of Hindu males, and r.a.p.e.s of women. More than 60% of the Bengali refugees who fled to India were Hindus.[53]

    October 30, 2011 at 8:40 am | Reply
  10. Qaid_e_Azam

    MUSLIM PAKISTANI ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL DEATHS IN INDIAN KASHMIR AND EXODUS OF KASHMIRI HINDUS FROM THE VALLEY

    ALL MILITANTS IN KASHMIR COME TO INDIA VIA PAKISTAN AFTER TRAINING

    PAKISTAN HAS KILLED 100000 KASHIMIRIS THIS WAY BY TERROR INFLICTED THUS

    October 30, 2011 at 11:00 am | Reply
  11. Qaid_e_Azam

    MUSLIM PAKISTANIS HAVE KILLED 100000 KASHMIRIS BY PROXY TERROR WAR ON KASHMIR

    MUSLIM PAKISTANIS HAVE TRAINED MUSLIM MILITANTS FOR 65 YEARS TO HELP THEM INFILTRATE KASHMIR IN INDIA

    INDIA ACTS IN SELF DEFENSE AND MUSLIM PAKISTANIS GO PARANOID

    October 30, 2011 at 11:02 am | Reply
  12. Muhammad Ali Jinnah

    THIS IS AN AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL STATEMENT

    The Pakistan government must immediately provide accountability for the alarming number of killings and abductions in Balochistan attributed to government forces in recent months, Amnesty International said today.

    In the last four months, at least 90 Baloch activists, teachers, journalists and lawyers have disappeared or been murdered, many in ‘kill and dump’ operations, according to information compiled by Amnesty International. Their bullet-ridden bodies, most bearing torture marks, have been recovered across Balochistan.

    October 30, 2011 at 11:54 am | Reply
  13. Muhammad Ali Jinnah

    THIS IS AN AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL STATEMENT ( AMNESTY . ORG )

    The Pakistan government must immediately provide accountability for the alarming number of killings and abductions in Balochistan attributed to government forces in recent months, Amnesty International said today.

    In the last four months, at least 90 Baloch activists, teachers, journalists and lawyers have disappeared or been murdered, many in ‘kill and dump’ operations, according to information compiled by Amnesty International. Their bullet-ridden bodies, most bearing torture marks, have been recovered across Balochistan.

    October 30, 2011 at 11:55 am | Reply
  14. Muhammad Ali Jinnah

    SHAME SHAME PAKISTAN :( :( :(
    There are more than 5,000 cases of ‘forced disappearances’ in Balochistan.[44][45] The chief Justice of an apex court of Pakistan asked about the situation and said situation was going out of control in Balochistan.[44][45].The Supreme Court is currently investigation the missing persons and issued an arrest warrant for the former Military Dictator Pervez Musharaff

    October 30, 2011 at 11:57 am | Reply
  15. Indian cooking holidays

    There are number of procedures and also versions utilized in organizing american indian quality recipes. On the other hand, each of the dishes get various along with great taste. The popular non-vegetarian...Indian Food

    January 16, 2012 at 7:57 pm | Reply
  16. Indian food easy recipes

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    January 19, 2012 at 8:13 am | Reply
  17. engineer_2012

    There has been a lot of news lately on the buzz word – "India is growing into fast food nation", just when china is finding out that disease and obesity has increased amongst its youth population similar to the US, which has put its next generation future health in jeopardy. In China there is a growing movement where people who can afford good wholesome meals are following that path and the goverment is heavily involved. Its amazing that in the US there hasn't been a following for this ted prize winner – he was almost thrown out the Los Angeles school system, whereas in China he has developed a huge following. All Indian parents should take a look at what this ted prize winner has to say,

    http://blog.ted.com/2009/12/21/ted_prize_winne_4/

    April 23, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Reply
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