lockdown impact: Lockdown: How experiment with new cuisines is keeping Indians busy and cos happy

NEW DELHI: Indians are cooking up a storm at home as the country completes four weeks in lockdown. Consumer companies, retailers, restaurants and even malls are helping the Great Indian Middle-Class experiment with new cuisines at home to help keep sales moving and brand awareness ticking.

Every Friday, Jasper Reid, the chief executive of restaurant chain Jamie Oliver’s and Wendy’s in India, explains from his home kitchen how classic spaghetti carbonara, Caesar salad and other Italian dishes can be cooked.

Grocery retailer Reliance Fresh has roped in chef Amrita Raichand for a series of ‘Live Lockdown Cooking Shows’ on its Facebook page.

Select Citywalk Mall in New Delhi has done a Facebook Live cookery show with baker Ratna Saluja.

“I love to cook but never have the time,” said Reid, who has already done four episodes on Facebook. Reid and other executives now have the time, while companies have the reasons to do such shows online.

With eateries and malls shut, FMCG companies, restaurants and retailers are relying on online and social media to keep their brands alive even as companies say they continue to be hampered by supply constraints at district levels, shortage of labour, transport and raw material to meet demand for packaged foods and ingredients.

The aim is to stay in the consumers’ hearts, albeit through the stomach.

“We decided to create meaningful digital content that could spark the creativity of our audiences and strengthen positivity during this period,” said Gitanjali Singh, vice president for marketing at Select Citywalk Mall, which has also dished out videos on beauty tips.

Amul, India’s largest dairy company, has started hosting live cookery sessions on its Facebook page for what it calls simple, homemade recipes.

“Families are splitting responsibilities of cooking through the day and posting dishes and recipes on social media with pride. Hence, we are engaging directly with consumers on what they are spending a lot of time on,” said managing director RS Sodhi.

Sales of products such as butter, cheese, rice, pasta and pizza sauces have shot up since the lockdown as they are the key ingredients in various cuisines.

From April 10 to April 14, Reliance Fresh showed five episodes where chef Raichand interacted live with homemakers, professional culinary experts and students as she prepared veggie Frankie rolls, burrito bowls, paneer bhurji, carrot muffins and beverages like pear and peanut butter milkshakes and water-melonade.

The Indian unit of Swiss foods giant Nestle has started a “recipe service” campaign that is expected to help consumers cook at home.

Nestle director, foods & confectionery Nikhil Chand said: “In trying times like these, with limited ingredients, meals made at home demand variety.”

Nestle said it will provide a platform to home chefs and make 700 recipes available on its website.

Large hotels chains such as ITC, JW Marriott and Novotel, too, have been posting recipes through their chefs on social media platforms to engage consumers.

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