With the pandemic outbreak disrupting the Indian food industry, old trends are likely to subside with new ones emerging. Here’s what Claridges Chairman Suresh Nanda has to say.

Social distancing and coronavirus are the two terms that we have been using repeatedly and have been embedded in our minds as of late. While we struggle to adjust in an environment we are unacquainted with, staying at home, scrolling through pictures of delectable meals and swallowing our craving pangs, the impact of pandemic outbreak on our eating habits and overall food industry is already taking shape. One of them is the increasing use of food delivery services. Though, relatively new, this norm of getting food delivered at your doorstep, has recently heaved into view and with the imposition of lockdown, it has been catering to an increasing number of people who still wish to satiate on tasty restaurant foods, thus gaining its further ground.

However, chances are, people may soon get comfortable with what is currently a ‘forced trial’, possibly leading to the use of the service for a long run even after the pandemic crisis settles down.

Another norm that may emerge is ‘consumers prioritising hygiene more than price’, believes the Claridges Chairman Suresh Nanda. As Indians, we always have had the culture of eating at cheap neighbourhood joints and street food because they are seemingly tastier and more importantly, cheaper than plush fine dining restaurants, completely overlooking its safety. However, the pandemic outbreak has engendered concerns towards restaurants’ sanitation and hygiene.

Therefore, gastronomes, who have always been thrifty may now become more wary of hygiene and quality than anything else. From Indian, Chinese to continental, the number of eateries is plethoric in any metropolis and hence, gourmets will never fall short of fine-dine options. Talking about the importance of hygiene and quality of food, Suresh Nanda mentioned how the restaurants at Claridges have always given equal importance to quality, hygiene as well as the taste. A prominent example is the ‘Dhaba’ that offers Indian food delights in a palatial setting all the while keeping the authenticity intact and sanitation in check. Hence, while people have dramatically adopted the mentality of ‘food safety comes first’ in the recent times, it is likely to continue after the pandemic crisis gets over as well.

With the possible increased demands of take-outs, a big question is whether high-end restaurants that have never done deliveries or take-away will foray in online food delivery business because after all, with constant disruptions in the industry, those who are the quickest in adapting to the new environment are most likely to lead the way for others. Though the hospitality industry has come off a high performance in the beginning of 2019, it has been facing severe shortcomings ever since the pandemic broke out that enabled the government to take several containment measures. However, for now, the best we can do is wait for the crisis to subside and brace up for what is yet to come.