Fast food is bulging Indian wastelines

2011-10-09 19:36

kalahari.com

New Delhi - Every lunchtime at a McDonald's on the corner of one of central New Delhi's biggest streets, queues of hungry young patrons, often four-wide and unruly, snake towards the counters.

The majority of those standing in line are under 30, most are in Western rather than Indian dress, and almost all in their choice of conversation and style are identifiably part of the much-fabled booming Indian middle class.

The only exceptions are the cheaply dressed office assistants who arrive bearing orders for McSpicy wraps or McVeggie burgers for their superiors back in the nearby corporate buildings.

"My elders say 'don't eat at Mcdonald's because it's not good for your health' but I don't listen to them," said 20-year-old student Salman Khan as he left the store on Janpath with a friend. "It's cheap and tasty."

Drawn by a growing and increasingly wealthy population of young people in India, McDonald's aims to increase the number of its outlets in the country from about 200 to 1 000 in the next five years.

Yum! Restaurants, which owns the KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell brands, will open 100 new outlets this year in India and also aims to have 1 000 restaurants by 2015, most of the them selling fried chicken.

"We are going to grow very quickly on the basis of young, nuclear families stepping in, and more and more people moving away from traditional cooking," McDonald's India managing director Vikram Bakshi told AFP earlier this year.

"We are quick, hygienic, clean and are seen as part of global culture."

Maharaja Mac

Western fast-food in India has never been more popular, with its image as something fresh, young and sophisticated burnished by huge marketing budgets that push localised versions of international best-sellers.

The Big Mac in Hindu-majority India, where eating beef is taboo, has become the chicken Maharaja Mac; in KFC, fried rice dishes are sold alongside Zinger burgers and Popcorn Chicken.

"We are very focused on young people. Our core target is young adults, the under 30s, and that also includes teens," Dhruv Kaul, director of marketing at KFC India, told AFP in an interview.

"In the last couple of years, our marketing has increased. We have more and more on television and massive spillover."

The result can be seen on the KFC India Facebook page, he says, where you see "umpteen requests asking 'when are you coming? when are you opening here?' There is a lot of latent demand."

KFC "is very aspirational in smaller towns... the awareness of the brands is there and they're waiting to join the party."

As well as its favourable demographics and openness, India has a strong culture of eating on the run at street-side stalls and snacking on greasy deep-fried dishes, such as samosas or pakoras.

Add all this together and it is not hard to see why the country of 1.2 billion people is seen as a sort of Eldorado by the fast-food industry.

Public health bomb

"Asia is the hottest area in terms of growth so there are bound are to be more brands coming out here," Bakshi from McDonald's said.

"The market is so large and so wide and is growing at such a great pace that I believe today more people coming in only helps the category of food services. It allows us collectively to reach across to the consumers."

But the increasing consumption of processed food that is high in fat and sugar is causing worries that India is importing the Western disease of obesity, creating a ticking public health bomb that the country can ill-afford.

While under nutrition is rampant - more than 50% of children are stunted due to malnutrition, according to a 2008 study in The Lancet medical journal - the over-fed middle class is growing in numbers and in trouser sizes.

A November 2010 study by the National Diabetes, Obesity and Cholesterol Foundation of India found that one in three children in private schools in New Delhi were obese, compared with one in ten in government schools.

The average daily intake of fat per person rose by a third in urban India from 1972-73 to 2004-05, figures from the National Sample Survey Organisation show, and is expected to have increased further since then.

"Obesity is emerging in India which has serious implications for metabolic health in the future," researcher Seema Gulati told AFP.

Double-edged scandal

"Schoolchildren are attracted to the way it [junk food] is advertised," she said. "They feel it is something that is high status. They want to try it out."

The warnings about the future impact are multiplying.

A major 2010 study called "The Rise of Asia's Middle Class" by the Asian Development Bank warned that in the next 20-30 years Asia will be faced with "an increasing number of chronic diseases on a scale previously unseen".

These include cancer, heart disease and diabetes, which are linked to the adoption of high-fat, high-sugar diets coupled with sedentary lifestyles involving little physical activity.

"Casual empiricism suggests that the urban middle class has become more sedentary as it has come to rely more heavily on motor vehicles, raising levels of obesity," it stated.

In another study published last month, the International Federation of the Red Cross focused on the "double-edged scandal" of the co-existence of malnutrition and obesity.

- SAPA
Read more on:    kfc  |  mcdonalds  |  india  |  health
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Sport
 

Watch: 2015 Absa Cape Epic route

The route of the 2015 Absa Cape Epic has been announced and it promises to be as challenging as ever!

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

4 exercise excuses and how to beat them
Watch: Insane road bike skills!
The most extreme journey ever?
Red Bull Lionheart trail run - not for the fainthearted!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Deal of the week!

Save R1200 on the Samsung 48” smart full HD LED television now only R8799. Buy now!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

Save 20% on Nivea beauty products!

Buy any two Nivea beauty products and save 20%. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is a tendency to focus too intently on outer appearance and beauty which hides who you really are. You are being challenged...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.