Coping with COVID-19: Food business operators hope to get back consumers

Retailers Association of India (RAI) in association with the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) recently hosted a webinar, ‘Future of Food Business: Reviving Consumer Confidence’ as a part of its ongoing ‘Coping with COVID-19’ series. The panel comprised food business veterans including Nitin Saluja, Founder, Chaayos; Pratik Pota, CEO, Jubilant Foodworks Ltd.; Riyaaz Amlani, CEO & MD, Impresario Handmade Restaurants; Sagar Daryani, Co-Founder & CEO, Wow! Momo Foods Pvt. Ltd.; Zorawar Kalra, Founder & MD, Massive Restaurants. The panel was moderated by Anurag Katriar, President, NRAI; ED & CEO, deGustibus Hospitality.

Nitin Saluja Pratik Pota Riyaaz Amlani

Nitin Saluja, Founder, Chaayos said that there was an atmosphere of fear. “We, as an entire fraternity, need to figure out how to tackle that fear as best as possible,” he pointed out.

Zorawar Kalra, Founder & MD, Massive Restaurants pointed out that the “need to move away from using the word contactless dining to stress-free dining. The only way to get the consumer’s confidence is to let them know that ‘we have your back’. Customers need to be assured that eating at a restaurant is actually safer than eating at home since we have more checks and balances in place.”

Pratik Pota, CEO, Jubilant Foodworks Ltd. said that the crisis was not just a demand crisis but also a supply crisis. “Supply chains have been disrupted; inventory shrinkage is bound to happen. There’ll be supply shrinkage along with demand pullback,” he said even as he mentioned that the fundamentals and the potential of “our category haven’t changed but it is a matter of time I would say that 6-9 months would be a good time frame to get back.”

Sagar Daryani, Co-Founder & CEO, Wow! Momo Foods Pvt. Ltd. was hopeful when he said that “India will be the fastest country to bounce back…Our entire business models are going to change and that’ll change the business models of the entire ecosystem.”

Zorawar Kalra Anurag Katriar Sagar Daryani

Riyaaz Amlani, CEO & MD, Impresario Handmade Restaurants said, “Currently, we are battling with the sentiment which is at best skittish. We are seeing a lot of pent up demand. There’s a case to be made that there is revenge buying but there is also going to be a lot of tentativeness. You have to know your restaurant well, how you’re going to fill the hole in people’s souls.”

Anurag Katriar, President, NRAI; ED & CEO, deGustibus Hospitality said, “I don’t think this industry will fail because dining out is the one of the most natural things that humans do. Having said that to win over consumers we will need to take a plethora of ‘confidence-building’ measures. Every stakeholder in this ecosystem must realize that in these difficult times in the post-COVID era can be conducted on the older terms.”

 

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