Rahul Shinde, Managing Director at KFC India, traits the fast food chain’s states various aspects of Indian consumers that has changed in last few years. Few years back, a conglomerate of four private equity funds led by Samara Capital bought out over 300 stores of Pizza Hut and KFC both owned by the world’s largest restaurant company Yum Brands that were earlier split up between various small independent franchisee partners. Samara formed a new entity, Sapphire Foods, under which these outlets were consolidated. KFC posted 13% increase in sales for the July-September quarter in India, perhaps the highest among western style quick service restaurants. Shinde spoke to NuFFooDS Spectrum after moving from KFC UK in January 2015 to head the India operations
1- How do you see food choice of Indian customers changing over the years
The food choices of Indian consumers have changed drastically in the last few decades. When we entered the Indian market about two decades ago, we were introducing a completely unfamiliar concept and a whole different palate to the consumer. Therefore, there was some amount of familiarization that had to be built in with Indianised adaptations.
Today, however, consumers are well travelled and cued into global food trends. They are increasingly demanding authentic and real food experiences. Our products like the Smoky Grilled chicken and Chizza – flavors that are bold, authentic and distinctive – are being appreciated by consumers.
2- Now a days people want easy access to food but also try to look for healthy ingredients in it. What are your thoughts on that?
We are continually striving to improve the nutrition profile of our food products, without compromising on taste. Infact we offer a variety of menu options that can be part of a sensibly-balanced diet. None of our chicken is processed, we use 100% real – whole muscle chicken. We have no added trans-fat in any of our products.
We are also exploring ways to improve the nutritional profile of our products, and are working towards using natural and nature identical flavorings substances in all our new product launches. We are also completely transparent about our food and make nutritional content accessible on our website, so that consumers can make informed choices.
2- The word 'fast food' has gained lot of criticism. How do you think to sustain in this evolving choices?
We make our chicken the hard way. Every day, fresh chicken is inspected, hand-breaded, and cooked by real cooks in our kitchens. There is definitely nothing ‘fast” about our chicken!
As mentioned earlier, we believe in empowering consumers to make informed choices and are completely transparent about our food and therefore make nutritional content accessible on our website. We have always given consumers flexibility to choose portion sizes- right from 2 piece Hot & Crispy Chicken to a 12 piece Bucket of Boneless strips- depending on the occasion and group size.
4- How Yum Foods is planning to make strategic decisions due to the changing dining culture in India.
Increased urbanization, a younger workforce coupled with larger disposable incomes are leading to consumers having more occasions to eat out/ order in. Food delivery, is on an overall upswing due to factors like improved convenience, better infrastructure and the growth of online food aggregators.
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