Google Ad showed ‘Baked Curry Rice Bowl’ trending while ordering, what arrived was a crunchy upper layer, soupy middle layer and rice underneath – it was neither too spicy nor too bland. Stir-fried rice topped with a curry made using veggies such as carrots, potatoes, fried brinjal, peas. Quick meal bowls have become a go-to dish for many especially those residing in metros.
Although in trend, meal bowls are not a new fad in India. Interestingly, they have been gaining a lot of traction lately, perhaps, they present a balanced meal, or easily fuels the craze for hungry and convenience-seeking customers. In India, the meal in a box concept was rejuvenated by Freshmenu when they started converting restaurant dishes into bowl meals either in a round bowl or rectangular boxes.
The idea of meal bowls has been in trend for many years. Even people living abroad do not indulge in as much fast food as earlier as most of them prefer a nice meal, like the one they're used to at home which is filled with vegetables, protein and a healthy amount of carbs.
Ever since the pandemic struck, the focus on health has been accelerated. The spectre of the coronavirus, certainly, made people forego junk. They are now seeking out healthier alternatives where their cravings get satiated, while simultaneously keeping the health quotient high. And that’s where meal bowls fit in perfectly.
Looking at the business perspective, it has proved fruitful. At Freshmenu, big boxes used to take about 13 to15 minutes to put together. That was alright when the order volume was low, but as soon as the platform started getting bulk and huge orders, the team was struggling to keep up the pace. The bowl however was designed keeping seven minutes as the packing time. Hence an order would move faster and be able to boost speed by 2x. That really meant that the company could double the number of orders, which ultimately became the gamechanger.
Looking at the demand many consumer food brands have also ventured into the meal in a box segment launching convenient meal bowls or meal boxes. Recently, Yu Food Lab launched a range of instant meal bowls in six SKUs across two unique product categories, whole grain fruit and nut oat bowls with plans of launching halwa bowls soon.
“We fully recognize the current sentiment of consumers being conscious about their health, dietary intake and nutrition in the foods they consume. We hope to capture a large cross-section of consumers by introducing a wide range of meal bowl options appealing to the palette and needs of one and all,” founder Bharat Bhalla commented.
Meal in a box is an old Indian concept brought to life once again in a modern format. Earlier, what used to be in the form of thalis and typical North and South Indian combos, are now available in the form of new cuisines such as Asian, Italian and American. “At Lattu Biryani, we offer classics like Butter Chicken and Chappati/Rice in combos and plan to introduce grab and go rice and other Indian gravy combos,” Debashish Yadav, CEO, Licorne Hospitality informed.
Food bowls are convincing not only because of their taste and healthy food but also because of their appearance. The colourful artworks place a lot of emphasis on the appearance of the bowls. The bowls have been seen posted by customers on social media platforms which are free advertising for any brand.