Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Monday, Feb 18, 2002
Foods & Food Processing
Industry & Economy - Foods & Food Processing
Marketing - Strategy
McDonald's set to enter veg territory
AHMEDABAD, Feb. 17
THE long-pending entry of McDonald's into the largely vegetarian State of Gujarat will be happening sometime next month.
This comes amidst a lot of soul searching by the company whether anything remotely chicken will set in well with the palate of the people here the one reason why Pizza Hut reportedly chickened out of its regular fare and settled for a vegetarian menu while opening an outlet in Ahmedabad a few seasons ago.
Things are pretty much the same in all metros and the mini-metros, one would think. But in most cities of Gujarat, where eating out in the evenings is a way of life, a significant number of customers still insist on having `Jain' burgers and pizzas, dosas and the like. Yet, there are quite many of the view that Ahmedabad is beginning to take on cosmopolitan hues and they are absolutely right.
What is also right is that events begin to take a burlesque turn here if the issue in question is a food item that has a morsel of something chickenish or fishy in it.
McDonald's should consider itself lucky that its earlier fare of mutton fillers was withdrawn from its cuisine, even though temporarily. Because, in Gujarat, mutton is the umbrella banner for all non-vegetarian items for quite a few.
Thus, it is `chicken ka mutton' and `fish ka mutton' for many here. While one must tread warily in the case of `goat ka mutton', the decidedly unpardonable items are `cow ka mutton' and `pig ka mutton'. Undoubtedly, Mac has done well to steer clear of such bovine territory.
Meanwhile, the company has been grappling with a plateful of problems considering the 550-odd km distance and 16-hour travelling time between its processing and distribution centres located around Mumbai and the proposed Ahmedabad outlet.
The meat and leaf motif continues to be ticklish when it came to transporting the goodies in mutually untouched conditions.
While separate trucks are ruled out on account of economies of scale or rather the lack of it, the logistical bottleneck could be solved only after the company fabricates a truck to include three distinctly air-tight (and smell-proof) compartments.
The multi-temperature truck is ready to be launched some time later this month and Mac hopes that Ahmedabad will bite the offering.
Clearly, Mac's Ahmedabad roll-out will be a watershed of sorts. Especially as the fast food company is eyeing further launches in the eating habit-wise `iffy' towns of India as part of its effort to shore up its outlet strength from 34 today to over 80 in a couple of year's time.
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