NEW DELHI (TIP): KFC, the Kentucky-based fast-food chain known for its “finger-lickin’ good” range of chicken fillets and burgers, has finally given in to India’s penchant for vegetarianism. In what appears to be a first across all KFC franchises globally, KFC India has unveiled a segregated vegetarian menu along with a strong message about its newfound bias for vegetarian offerings.
Paneer Zinger and Veg Twister, in addition to the hot-selling Potato Krisper Burger, Veg Strips, Veg Rockin’ Burger and Veg Rice Bowl will now vie for consumer mind space along with their popular nonveg counterparts. The company has not only introduced new products under its veg range, it has also tweaked its global tagline “So good” to “So veg, so good” to show its commitment towards the category. Executives at the company say the new menu will help them satiate high local demand for vegetarian options.
“We recognized an opportunity to deliver a significant vegetarian range for the Indian consumer, and to reach out to a broader target audience,” says Dhruv Kaul, director of marketing at KFC India. Around 42% of Indian households are vegetarian, according to the Food and Agricultural Association of the United Nations, and 35% of weekdays are vegetarian for rest of the non-vegetarian population. The apparent split is backed up by consumer choice at various fast food restaurants across the country.
For instance, last month, on National Breakfast Day, out of the total free breakfast meals offered by fast food chain McDonald’s, 66% customers chose a Veg McMuffin over Egg McMuffin. Interestingly, McDonald’s is the first global fast-food chain to bring in a customized vegetarian menu to India, which boasts of McAloo Tikki burgers, among others. Since then, it has steadily been increasing the number of vegetarian options on its menu, along with other chains such as Subway.
Nearly 70% of the total pizzas sold in the country are vegetarian pizzas even in regions like Punjab, which is known for its meat-loving populace. “It also helps that vegetarian options are more affordable than non-vegetarian ones,” says Arvind Singhal, chairman of retail consultancy Technopak.
In the future, vegetarian offerings are expected to play a big role for fast food companies in India, with more and more urban consumers preferring vegetarian food as it is considered healthier. At present, India is emerging as one of the fastest growing fast food markets in the world. According to a National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) report, the fast food industry in India is estimated at Rs 8,000 crore and is growing at a CAGR of 35-40% annually.