Bharti Sanghi is a Food Expert who brings to food connoisseurs, a variety of age-old dishes and desserts with her tasteful twist. Homealone Foods was started in 2004 and has been in the food business since last 13 years. Bharti Sanghi comes from a prestigious Marwari Pittie family and her penchant for traditional recipes made her passion into a successful venture. Her food ranges from Rajasathani cuisine like daal puri, sangri with products sourced directly from Bikaner, to authentic maharashtrian, gujrati, and the ubiquitous north Indian, western cuisines too. Her Thepla has a special shelf life without any preservatives and has been carried overseas by over 500 children studying abroad. She has been featured in most newspapers & magazines including HT, Times of India, Marwar, and has over 3 pages of google covering her work.
The world might have come a long way since the first wave of COVID-19 in 2020, but the pandemic and its impact are still very much among us. Thousands of cases are still erupting every day, and the economy is yet far from glory.
Ever since India saw its first lockdown in March 2020, businesses, enterprises, industries, and livelihoods took a significant hit. Despite having phases of reopening and overall efforts to make things better, they are not looking better yet.
Among industries that bleed the most is the food industry. First, the lockdown disrupted the operations, then the strict guidelines about operating during assigned hours, a limit on the seating capacity, irregularities in the supply chain, problems with sourcing the ingredients, and the cash crunch to run the business like usual — all these factors took a toll on the food industry.
However, like everything else, the pandemic has laid out a new normal for the food industry. A normal that looks different and might stay around to define the future rather than fading into oblivion. This new normal has introduced some trends that are defining the food industry post-COVID.
The COVID-19 has entirely revamped the operating patterns of food growers, producers, manufacturers, and retailers. With radical changes in the supply chain and stricter operation measures dictating terms, the ingredients on the plate and the consumption pattern of the masses are undergoing a metamorphosis. The regular sales and business format are also changing in the post-COVID world.
People have adapted new consumption habits with more focus on sourcing ingredients from local and hyperlocal sources. Awareness about seasonal produce with more nutritional value has spiked among the consumers. Healthy food has become the new cool. A larger slice of the population now relies on the online marketplace for daily needs such as grocery and dairy.
The old-age adage of ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ came true in the post-COVID world. The world has seen some of the most innovative experiments and their execution during and after the pandemic. The innovation ranged from a mobile app to suggest the quietest times to drop at a grocery store to quirky headgears designed to instil social distancing among people. As more people turned to the internet during different phases of the lockdown, they doubled as users of these new products and services, thus boosting the innovative spree.
Technology came to the rescue when the food industry needed it the most, and it is going to continue driving the change in the post-COVID world. While the food industry deserves praise for showing zeal towards innovation and adaptability, technology became the true enabler by facilitating solid execution on the digital platforms and the ground. Local food delivery giants such as Zomato and Swiggy saw increased orders, and the trend is growing stronger. More pop-up kitchens and cloud operations are making their way into the market. After all, the consumer is ready to try something new with the guarantee of hygiene and safety.
Food safety has taken the spotlight in the post-COVID world. A more sizable segment of the population now embraces the idea of better hygiene not just while eating out but also while cooking at home. Some new-found practices include strictly washing all ingredients and being mindful of the overall nutritional value of a meal. Gone are the days when ingredients hit the pan just for the sake of visual appeal or purely because of their taste.
People are now more mindful of their macros and micros, and businesses operating in the space are registering the new demands of the discerning diners. They are investing in new technology to offer better food safety for a worry-free experience for their patrons.
Chefs are also experimenting with their cooking to provide more value per serving. Introducing locally sourced and seasonal elements into their dishes are becoming the new norm. Social distancing guidelines have introduced a more intimate outdoor dining experience with lesser people around. The hesitation in stepping out has also stirred a new demand for DIY kits where gourmands can recreate the experience of dining at a restaurant at their homes.
Since the focus on food safety has intensified, street food vendors — not perceived as the ones with the best hygiene standards — are bearing the brunt. These have made way for gourmet street food brands that can offer a double dose of taste and hygiene at the same time. Existing street food vendors are also improving their food safety and hygiene game to stay relevant.
The dietary preference is also projecting a conscious shift towards sustainable choices. Since the Coronavirus is suspected to occur from an animal meat source, it is stirring self-reflection among people. Especially since global outbreaks like the Swine Flu has come from animal sources in the past. People now register the need to question their food choices and make informed decisions based on how their consumption impacts them and the environment.
The adverse effects of the meat and dairy industry on the climate are also hitting the headlines. How they contribute substantially to the emission of greenhouse gases, thus accelerating climate change and global warming, has become a well-known fact. Supplied with this new-found revelation, more people are asking significant questions. They are deciding to turn either vegetarian or vegan based on their preference.
Veganism is on a substantial rise, and people are opting for mock meat options for occasional indulgences. The west is already big on veganism, and it is only a matter of time when the Indian diaspora also rides the wave. The plant-based diet is all set to be the next big thing, and it is a trend that will define the food industry in the post-COVID world.
To wrap it all up, while the food industry is still far from coming back on track, it is looking at a future filled with experimentation and a lot of excitement. It will be interesting to see how it unfolds ahead.