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Chinese food emerging as a popular cuisine among Indians

28-July-2005
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Chinese food emerging as a popular cuisine among Indians

The fast paced life has undoubtedly had an impact on the behavioral patterns of the Indian consumers. Increasing disposable incomes, changing lifestyles, exposure to international cuisine and culture, and the willingness to experiment have brought about a sea change in Indians’ way of life.

And nowhere is this trend more apparent than in their eating habits. Travelling abroad for business and leisure have spawned a new breed of Indians who will settle for nothing less than the authentic taste. Hence, in recent times we have seen the growing popularity of Thai, Lebanese, Japanese and of course Chinese cuisine.

Gone are the days when Indians had to settle for the ubiquitous Punjabi-Chinese food. The discerning global traveler will now not settle for anything less than the ‘real’ thing. Thus the growing popularity of brands like Yo! China and Mark Pi in India.

According to India Retail Report 2004, a study conducted by KSA Technopak in association with Images Retail, Chinese food is the second most popular cuisine in India, which enjoys a 15 per cent share of the market.

Moods Hospitality, the company behind Yo! China, the first Chinese food chain in India, which entered the Indian market two years back, today has seven outlets in Delhi, NCR and Pune. “Yo! China is an American Chinese concept customised for the Indian consumer,” said Ashish Kapur, Managing Director, Moods Hospitality.

The growing popularity of Chinese food has prompted another Chinese food chain – Mark Pi, which has a flourishing business in the US – to foray into the Indian market. Mark Pi, which entered the Indian mart a year after Yo! China’s foray, already has a presence in cities like Delhi, Lucknow, Ludhiana and Chennai.

Karana Verma, CEO, Mark Pi, said, “We wanted to do something which was scalable, Chinese is always considered to be an expensive proposition that’s the market we wanted to attack. It was a healthier, cheaper alternative to the van and it was as delicious and wholesome as any other fine dining restaurant.”

Asked on the future prospects of Chinese food in India, Kapur said, “The annual eating out spend both in the organised and unorganised sector amount to Rs 35 crore. Having said this, it is interesting to note that Chinese, which is the second most popular cuisine in India after north Indian, has a very significant share in the market. This also tells us that immense scope of growth that is present in this market.” However, Verma termed it to be “a completely fragmented market.”

Going by the growing preference for Chinese food among Indians, the existing players are certainly looking at expanding themselves in India. Targeting places like Kanpur, Kochi, and Guwahati, Mark Pi has clearly set its eyes on B class towns and has plans to open 300 stores across India in the next 7-8 years. As far as investment was concerned, the chain had planned to pump in approximately Rs 100 crore into the project, informed Verma.

Yo! China, on the other hand, is eyeing cities like Chandigarh, Jalandhar, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Kolkata and Delhi, NCR. “By March 2006, we hope to have eight franchised outlets and 14 company-owned outlets both within and outside Delhi,” said Kapur.

With the immense scope that the market has for Chinese food, it would be interesting to note the competition in the near future. While Mark Pi’s Verma isn’t much apprehensive about the competition, Yo! China is in an indirect competition with McDonald’s and Pizza Hut.

As far as brand building is concerned, Mark Pi, will be laying stress on local store marketing rather than national advertising, while Yo! China is more focused towards participating in youth-oriented festivals for which the chain is targeting all the major college festivals to be held in the Capital towards the end of the year. A budget of Rs 8 crore had been earmarked for marketing, informed Kapur.

This can only mean more mouthwatering times for the food connoisseur.

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