Saturday, October 27, 2012


What ever one may say about the functioning of MNCs in developing countries, it is an undeniable fact that many of them represent most modern innovating entrepreneurship. It is true that they have enormous financial muscle that helps them to "pocket" the national governments in pursuing a policy of benevolence towards them which is not shown towards the domestic players, especially the "Desi" entrepreneurs in the small and medium scale sector. Recent reports indicate that an out and out meat food products serving international fast food company is launching 100% vegetarian outlets, providing a clue regarding their approach in India which is considered a predominantly vegetarian country. It nothing but cold statistics which reflect the fact that there are more than 500 million vegetarians, some with considerable disposable income who will not even enter an outlet where meat products are served, no matter how clean the restaurant may be. If an entrepreneur wants to tap this market, it is nothing but a smart move. Here is a critique on this new trend in catering in India.

"McDonald's Corp., the fast food chain that brought the hamburger to the world, is opening what may be its first vegetarian-only restaurants. The world's biggest hamburger chain said Tuesday that the locations in India will serve only vegetarian food because of customer preferences in the region. The company could not immediately say when the restaurants would open or how many there would be. A 2006 poll found that about 40 percent of Indians do not eat meat, and McDonald's is eager to tap that 500-million-strong market. Already, McDonald's said its restaurants in India do not sell beef or pork, and that the kitchens are separated into sections for cooking vegetarian and non-vegetarian food. They have menu items that cater to local tastes, such as the Maharaja Mac, which is a Big Mac made with chicken patties instead of beef. It also offers a McAloo Tikki, a burger made with a spicy breaded potato patty, red onions, tomatoes and a "special vegetable sauce." The chain offers such localized options in countries around the world. The opening of the vegetarian-only restaurants "further speaks to McDonald's efforts to cater to local tastes," the Oak Brook, Ill.-based company said. Without providing details, it said the restaurants will be in areas that are popular pilgrimage destinations. McDonald's said the new restaurants are the only ones it's aware of that will serve only vegetarian food. However, local franchises in India and other regions may already have meatless menus. For religious reasons, beef is not eaten by Hindus, who make up the majority of India's population of about 1.2 billion people. McDonald's has more than 33,500 locations around the world, but only about 250 are in India".

There is a famous saying that one should "behave like Romans when in Rome", just for the etiquette but here the consideration is more than that and that is to modify the strategy to suit Indian conditions. If reports from China are to be believed almost all MNCs pitching their tent there are bending backward to modify their food preparations to suit the culinary preferences of population there. Even in India products like snacks are being flavored with traditional spice mixes which cannot be found in any other countries. Similarly even internationally established soft drinks are being redesigned to make them more acceptable to Indian palate. Probably this may be a win-win situation for both the industry and the Indian consumer. One only hopes that the traditional Punjabi Dabas and Udipi Hotels will not become targets for these MNCs which can spell doom to millions of small food vendors. Indian entrepreneurs must be wise to such possibilities and improve their service in order not to loose their business to the new type of MNCs in future.


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