-Meghana Harikumar (email@example.com)
Wedding season and various functions are in full swing, and catering plays an important role in consumers’ minds. Which caterer is the best, what menu is to be curated, what is the theme of the wedding, should we match the food with the wedding theme? Food and catering industry in South India is seeing a major change and is evolving like never before. Health and sustainability seems to be taking the front seat post the COVID 19 pandemic along with the theme and other aspects of a celebration.
Thematic food is the color of the season! With hashtags and color schemes ruling most celebrations, foods that match the same are in popular demand. The colours are matched, cleanliness and hygiene are one of the major focal points. The laid-out buffets have taken a back seat and more pass around food/ small bites/bowl menus have gained popularity since the Covid hit the world.
Catering companies are adopting business practices that will benefit the environment at every step of the process. In addition to sourcing ingredients directly from local farmers, the caterers use sustainable cutlery and are concerned with carbon emissions, plastic pollution, food waste, and ethical sourcing.
Abhinav Varma, Catering Consultant and Restaurateur said, “Current trends in catering are focused on seasonal/local produce, forgotten cuisine menus, restaurant pop-ups where specialty restaurants come and showcase their offering in a restaurant style setup and small bites making a larger menu offering. Sustainability in terms of sourcing local/seasonal/ethically farmed ingredients has seen a growth since customers are now more aware and conscious than before. Also, sustainability in terms of reducing/negative single use plastics has also become a topic of discussion when finalizing menus and plans with customers.”
“Healthy food is in demand but in a more fashionable sense of the word too. People want menu categories/options like Keto, Vegan etc. and that comes under the healthy segment too. But yes, deep fried foods and/or oily/fatty foods have seen a decline in demand, especially with summer hitting us early, he added.
“People are becoming more health-conscious and looking for catering options that offer healthy and nutritious options. This includes vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. Sustainability is becoming a major concern in the food industry, and catering is no exception. More and more caterers are focusing on using locally sourced, organic, and sustainable ingredients.” said Rajanish Babu, Chief Operating Officer, 22 Catering Co.
In response to a question about trends, Satish Shetty, AS Group Founder, said, “Customers are looking for personal touches this season. Personal touches are essential to any celebration. Customers want a personal touch without being intrusive or in your face whether it is the food, the planning, the decor, or the execution. Requests for healthy food is a trend of the hour. We keep separate stalls for millet based food, vegetables and salads. But, there is also demand for junk food and heavy ghee poured dishes. Afterall, people come to weddings to eat good food and satisfy their taste buds.”
“Generally there is a desire to enjoy and go overboard. Everybody’s budget has gone up right now at least by 25-50%. People these days want to celebrate in style and have a fantastic time post Covid. Mono Portions is a new trend, it looks more neat, premium and hygienic. Customers ask for multi cuisine menu, stylish crockery, presentation, themes and uniformed staff. The catering scene is changing day by day,” said Vishal Kumar Gupta and Sweta Gupta, Directors, The Creative Kitchen.
“We are a zero plastic company when it comes to sustainability. 75% of our clients are mentioning to us to not use plastic themselves. Parties and celebrations are to eat food. No one comes with a diet plan for a celebration. Consciously most of the customers do not ask for healthy food, but we as a catering company use high quality ingredients to make sure that the food is in its best quality and taste. We make a dish called Pinsa, a hand-pressed pizza dough made with 20 percent Semolina and 80 percent water, which is the hot favourite amongst our customers. It is healthy, crunchy and delicious just like a pizza,” added Vishal and Sweta.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the catering industry. Overall, the pandemic has brought significant changes to the catering industry, with an increased emphasis on safety, sustainability, convenience, and personalized options. Sustainability has become a growing priority for many consumers and those in the catering industry. We cannot generalize the opinion on healthy food options because people want to eat and merry post the jail time at homes during COVID.
Catering companies that prioritize sustainable practices are in demand by customers who are concerned about the environmental impact of their food choices. Plant-based and vegetarian options are popular with customers who want to reduce their carbon footprint. Food waste is being reduced by customers and caterers through careful planning, portion control, and donation programs.
Catering companies are responding by implementing sustainable practices and offering eco-friendly options to customers, as sustainability and health are becoming increasingly important considerations for customers.
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