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The food business is going to be a 15-20 bn opportunity: Anurag Mehrotra

Adgully is back with a new edition of its annual feature – TRENDING NOW – where we present the strategies and views of a cross-section of industry leaders as they go about reclaiming lost time and market opportunities and build for a stronger future, armed with the lessons of the pandemic period.

Over the last few weeks, Trending Now has been bringing insights from industry leaders on how their organisations are geared up to seize the opportunities in 2022, break through the Covid disruptions and find growth and remain resilient.

In an exclusive conversation with Adgully, Anurag Mehrotra, Co-Founder & CEO of Charcoal Eats, speaks at length about the trends he has observed in the food & beverage industry, new launches for Charcoal Eats, and more.

What are the trends that you have observed in the food and beverage industry?

Clearly, the cyclical trends which are trending are the shifts from unorganised to the organised. Second, is the whole Internet penetration, the growth in infrastructure. Third, is the whole supply chain engine, cold storage, and the accessibility of pressing a button and getting instant gratification that we are seeing everywhere. The pandemic just accelerated that and we are seeing demand increasing. People have become very cautious about where they were ordering from, and that is where it becomes very important for you to build your brand connect.

I think the young generation is far more open to the idea of trying out new food experiences. The trend of ordering food is spreading beyond the metros to Tier 2 and 3 cities. This is a trend is here to stay and the business will become much greater in size.

What were the challenges that you had to face during the pandemic and how was the recovery?

There were a couple of challenges where you had to make a choice – whether to continue or to shut down. But we believed that the trends are clearly aligned. At that point in time, nobody had a crystal ball to see the future, but we believed that things would eventually settle down. It was like a black swan event for us. We just let it go, let it shape up, and as visibility started growing, we were nimble and we reconfigured ourselves. We said deliveries will be the one, let’s just position ourselves for that. Business was shut for 6-7 months with zero revenues, but we were able to bring it back in November-December 2020. I think everybody went through that. So, we were much, much better.

What are the opportunities that you feel are there in this industry and where do you see this industry in the next five years?

Being a food company, if you have tried our product but if you are not going to be a good ambassador for that, that’s going to hurt us very badly. So, our focus – and I will say the industry’s focus – should be on the food. Our philosophy is that if we cannot serve this food to our children, we should not be in this business. I think this sector is here to stay and get more organized; but clearly, I see large platforms really driving the supply side of the business. So, if you look at the food business, it is going to be a $15-20 billion opportunity, with food aggregators like Zomato and Swiggy acting as the bridge.

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