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Catering business has been in a see-saw mode post COVID. From diminishing margins to increase in the cost of raw materials to the non-availability of quality labour force, the caterers are facing many issues on the long run. business in India can provide numerous benefits including the opportunity for growth, diverse customer base, and low startup costs. As the food industry in India continues to flourish, so does the demand for high-quality catering services. By starting a catering business, entrepreneurs can tap into this growing market and potentially see significant financial returns. COVID had brought lot of changes in the catering industry and some of the leading caterers from the industry speak on the industry and the way ahead.
G Sunil Kumar of Friends Catering in Nellore says that COVID has changed not just the consumption habits but also the way people think about life. “I notice many people wanting to go out and eat. As most people had seen the worst of the COVID, they feel, its better they eat well and enjoy this one life.” Sunil also feels that the ways ahead will have more ready-to-eat products making the life of the consumers easy.
Another challenge every caterer is facing is the exposure of the customers towards the global food through tourism and social media like instagram. According to S Radhakrishnaiah of Venkatramana Curries and catering, one of the leading caterers in Nellore says, the customers’ expectations had changed to a different league these days. “Most customers do know that the cost of the raw materials had increased given the fact that they buy for their housing needs. Despite that, most of the customers prefer to drive a hard bargain in terms of our deliverables.” He also says that the increase in the price-wars among the competitors. “As many have entered the industry, especially after the pandemic, there is a shake in the market. Those sans knowledge of the trade tend to enter the business and are ready to offer at lesser rates. This empowers the customers hold all cards when it comes to price finalization.”, he added.
Jayachandran of My Kitchen in Chitoor is not just a proprietor of My Kitchen, but also a chef himself says that catering these days had gone for a lot of transformation. “Post-pandemic, we see the entry of many food concepts that are imported to India. We can see the raise of food chains entering even smallest towns. I also feel that the very basic of Indian family values of providing quality food for the family has reduced. Most families stopped giving importance of cooking proper food for their kids.
How caters should evolve:
N Manoj Kumar of Poornima Catering, Nellore speaks on the way the supply chain has evolved. “Most of the customers pay us on time and thus our payments towards the traders will be on time. However, in the recent days, the traders had stopped credit business. I see this trend unhealthy for the entire catering business as such. According to him, post COVID, the cost of the ingredients had gone sky-high and there were times where cost of the milk had drastic change while signing the order and executing them.
He is also on the opinion that catering should seriously look at making profits and not reduce their margins for one order thinking they might make it together in the next order.
Uniform price- Way ahead:
V Venky of Vigneshwara catering in Nellore feels that price uniformity should be the only way ahead to survive in this business. “Being in the industry for almost half of my life, I feel that caterers should have a minimum price fixed on every meal we should make. Because, in today’s scenario, for a quality meal, we need quality ingredients and the rate of man power is increasing”, he says. He also says that, coming days are going to be challenging for the customers in further sense.