The Taste of India: American chains go desi with veg makhani burgers, tandoori tofu subs and achaari pizzas
- Over a quarter of the menus of top QSRs like Pizza Hut, Dominos, Subway, McDonald’s and KFC are ‘Indianised’.
- Domino’s Pizza, Subway, McDonald’s and Burger King are targeting the Indian taste palate, says a report by Sharekhan.
- The Indian QSR market is expected to grow at 23% for the next three years, says Sharekhan.
AdvertisementOver the last few decades, Indians have altered the Chinese food and spices so much that Indo-Chinese has become a cuisine in itself. A similar transformation is afoot in Americanised fast foods like burgers, pizzas and subs. However, this time the change is more organised as it’s driven by quick service restaurants or QSRs – instead of dhabas and hawkers, who had kickstarted the Indo-Chinese food revolution.
According to a report by Sharekhan, over a quarter of the menus of top QSRs like Pizza Hut, Dominos, Subway, McDonald’s and KFC have been ‘Indianised’. Among these, the most Indianised of menus is offered by Burger King – with over 40% of its offerings like veg makhani burst burgers and aloo tikki burgers.
KFC’s biryani bucket combos that offer chicken legs with spiced gravy and flavoured rice is an Indian alternative to its popular international combo — rice with strips.
“Big international brands such as Domino’s Pizza, Subway, McDonald’s and Burger King have incorporated to their menus a large range of products that are created to target the Indian taste palate. These offerings cater to the changing preferences of customers thereby increasing the overall demand,” said the Sharekhan report.
Who moved my cheese – no paneer
A lot of the menu alterations of these American food chains cater to the vegetarians – with paneer being the most popular option.
The next most popular addition is the tandoor versions added to pizzas, burgers and even subs and salads — which is done across vegetarian and non vegetarian menus.
Then, there are the spicier versions offered by McDonald’s, which also introduced a chatpata spice mix much like its peri peri mix. Tikkas and tikkis too have made their way onto the menus, besides pastas.
However, a few outlets are also trying mixing other international menus with Indian options like Mexican aloo tikki – catering to the Indian love for mixing spices and taste palates.
Data source: Sharekhan
|Brand||% of Indianised menu||Examples of Indian items|
|Domino’s||24%||Kadhai paneer pizza, Achaari do pyaaza pizza, Tikka masala pasta, Peppy paneer|
|Subway||34%||Tandoori tofu sub, Aloo patty sub, Chatpata chana sub, Hara bhara sub|
|Pizza Hut||25%||Tandoori mushroom pizza, Spiced paneer pizza, Paneer classic pizza|
|McDonald’s||34%||Chicken kebab burger, Masala wedges, Mexican Aloo Tikki burger|
|Burger King||42%||Veg makhani burst burger, Tikki twist burger, Chicken Makhani burger|
|KFC||31%||Classic Chicken Biryani buckets; Combos with Hyderabadi biryani and gravies|
Value, localisation - the hinterland mantras
Menu localisation is one of the growth themes that Indian QSRs, largely dominated by American origin brands, have been chasing. The Indian QSR market is expected to grow at 23% for the next three years driven by the post-pandemic surge in ordering via aggregator platforms like Zomato and Swiggy.
“In post-Covid era, a large shift to branded products, increasing frequency of ordering on delivery platforms and strong traction for value products provides large scope for QSR players to fast expand its penetration in the Indian market,” the Sharekhan report said.
The report also identified sweet spots in tier II, tier III and even tier IV cities where menu localisation will help grab more market share, along with providing value options for the cost-conscious young customers.
With customers having become used to food being delivered to their doorstep at the touch of a button and at any time of the day, convenience has become key and is helping drive delivery growth, the report said. It is already moving away from occasion-based ordering to habitual ordering, the report added.
However, to compete with the large ecosystem or unorganised players like local restaurants and food chains that offer every option, QSRs are having to work harder for their market share.
“Indian customers’ demanding nature is driving QSRs to introduce products that go beyond the basic,” the Sharekhan report said.
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