Pandemic aftertaste: Healthy food still top flavour for eateries, delivery portals

Both food delivery portals and restaurants say they have observed an increased demand for healthy food options, especially from the office-going crowd.

Pandemic aftertaste: Healthy food still top flavour for eateries, delivery portals
The global life expectancy is about 72.98 years as of 2022,5 an increase of 24 years since 1955.6 Much of this is due to advances in public health education and medicine. (File)

Immunity boosters, kadhas, healthy juices, turmeric latte — the pandemic menu was about all things healthy. Even after offices resuming, the obsession with health continues. Both food delivery portals and restaurants say they have observed an increased demand for healthy food options, especially from the office-going crowd.

Founder of fresh and healthy food cloud kitchen FreshMenu, operational in Delhi, Gurugram, Bengaluru and Mumbai (offers freshly cooked meals), Rashmi Daga said people are way more educated now on the way healthy diets work, with wellness an important quotient. “In India, we have always believed in the concept of fresh food. Our menu is largely focused on healthy and fresh food. In the coming 12 months, our target is to grow by 100% and double our footprint. We are also planning to open over 40 kitchens in Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru in the next one year.”

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Their most ordered dishes remain roast chicken Caesar salad, chilly paneer on a bed of brown rice, superbowls and blueberry oatmeal cake. Most of their consumers are between 20-35 years of age and working professionals.

Buoyed by the success of its conscious cafe at Gurugram, Fig recently opened another outlet in the heart of Delhi, offering a menu based on high-quality, seasonal produce from local farms, 100% GMO-free meat, cage-free eggs, dishes catering to keto and gluten-free diets and ‘farm-to-cup’ specialty coffee.

Founder Manish Yadav said, “We saw great demand for good, healthy food even before the pandemic. After the pandemic, our cafe in Gurugram was packed to capacity, so we duplicated the concept in Delhi too.”

“We source locally as far as possible, use the freshest of ingredients, use cooking methods that preserve nutrients. We have also detailed the café environment to complement the experience for business meetings and relaxed conversations,” he added.

As per online food delivery and ordering platform Swiggy’s sixth annual StatEATstics report, search for healthy food doubled on Swiggy. Keto food orders saw a 23% increase and plant-based and vegan food orders rose by 83%. Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Mumbai turned out to be the most health-conscious cities. Restaurants also tweaked their menus to offer a curation of immunity-boosting dishes to health-conscious consumers.

Multibrand cloud kitchen chain Curefoods’ healthy food brand EatFit has a presence in Delhi, Hyderabad, Coimbatore, among others, and attracted multiple investments in 2021 as healthy eating gained traction. This year, it raised $46 million in its series C round led by Cayman-based Crimson Winter and investors like Iron Pillar, Accel, Chiratte, Three State capital and Sixteen Street.

Food delivery app Zomato, too, has an option of searching for ‘healthy food’ availability near consumers. Taking note of the demand, Swiggy recently introduced a ‘Guiltfree’ section on its app to help foodies find healthier alternatives to their favourite dishes. Back in 2020 as well, Swiggy had introduced Health Hub, a healthy food discovery option on its app in collaboration with nutritionists and top restaurants to offer health-focused food, including gluten-free, high-protein, low-carb, organic, vegan, and keto meals.

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“Covid has had a considerable impact on the evolution of food options during recent years. People are becoming increasingly sensitive to what they eat and seek healthier options that do not sacrifice taste but satisfy appetites,” said a Swiggy spokesperson.

Apps that deliver farm-fresh groceries at home also are a huge successes. Fresh products delivery platform Country Delight, which delivers dairy products, breads and coconut water in around 16 cities, continues to see a high number of orders after reopening of offices for fresh dairy products, coconut water, etc. Chakradhar Gade, co-founder & CEO, Country Delight, said, “Country Delight makes around 8 million deliveries per month across 15 cities with a cold supply chain that spans 11 states in the country,” adding that their business is tech-driven and consumer-centric, delivering natural, fresh and minimally processed products sourced directly from farmers across the country.

The brand went from earning Rs19 crore in operating revenues in 2018 to Rs 321 crore in 2021, and expects to clock Rs 600 crore in 2022. “We grew close to 100% last year and expect to grow approximately at the same pace this year too,” said Gade.

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