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By Ayshwaria Lakshmi (firstname.lastname@example.org)
According to a report by Research and Markets, the catering services market in India in 2020 was valued at approximately $ 8.5 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $13.7 billion by 2026, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 9.2% during the forecast period. Trichy, one of the important Tier II cities in Tamil Nadu, has a very high religious, historical heritage attached to it. The ancient city is also known for its food culture. Part of the Delta region, with Cauvery crossing in between the Twin Cities – Trichy and Srirangam. The land of culture and tradition has inspired a range of flavours and delicacies. The caterers in the city say their biggest issue is finding labourers and pricing.
Magesh, Proprietor of Shri Mangalya Catering service tells “The biggest issue for us caterers is to find people to cook and serve.” Despite promising to increase their wages, the caterers say sourcing labourers are getting very difficult. Raja S. proprietor of Raja Catering Service agrees that there is a huge shortage of trained cooks in the Trichy market. He compares this with finding a good electrician or plumber and tells, “ Finding a trained personnel is as difficult as finding a good electrician or plumber who knows the tricks of the trade.”
The second issue that resonates in the market is pricing. Sathiya Narayanan, proprietor of Shubamangalam marriage catering services shares that despite an increase in price for goods, they were not able to raise the prices to reflect the same.
“The total number of people attending the event has gone down along with a rise in labour, transportation charges happen to be a bad combination. Though we try to increase the prices, it has a very negative reaction from customers.” Magesh from Shri Mangalam Catering also agrees that rising prices create a negative reaction and that they have not increased their prices since 2020.
But what all these caterers unanimously agree is that there is always less wastage of food after an event when compared to other cities. “Customers do not generally order too many varieties. They have a limited variety in their menu, which helps in controlling the wastage,” said Sathiya of Shubamangalam marriage catering.
The other practice that has helped with reducing wastage is that caterers do not cook more than what is required. Raja from Raja Catering Service says that they would usually increase one variant of food on the menu such as Idli or Dosa, as the batter can be stored. While the rest of the food on the menu is in limited quantity.
New trends are regular practices
It is also an interesting fact to note that cities like Coimbatore and Chennai see a wave of trending recipes using millets, varieties of rice. These trends, the caterers say, are in regular practice in this city. The caterers who have been in the industry for generations agree that healthier cooking using millet, and different kinds of rice were always part of their menu.
Raja from Raja Catering Service who is known for its non-vegetarian cooking says Biriyani made out of basmati rice was never preferred by the locals. Talking to the caterers from the city, these recipes have always been part of their menu.
Catering Market size
According to the Food Service and Restaurant Business Report 2022–23 by Francorp and restaurantindia.in, the market for food services in India is predicted to increase from $ 41.1 billion in 2022 to US$ 79.65 billion by 2028, with a CAGR of 11.19%. The report also added that the industry would employ 1 crore people by 2025, despite losing over 20 lakh jobs at the height of the COVID–19 pandemic.
Advice to the new-age caterers:
“The way to tackle the challenges is to be the one to get down and work on the field,” said Sekar Lakshman L from Annapoorani Marriage Catering Services. He further explains by saying that labour can be dealt with when everyone present in the team takes responsibilities.
As far as pricing is concerned, he added that as long as best services and healthier food is being offered to the customers, this issue can also be sorted. The caterers who have been in the industry for years advise the upcoming generation to only focus on quality and quantity. They also agree that one should understand the market that they are getting in as catering service is a very competitive market as it is. Without the right knowledge and understanding, one would have more challenges to be faced.