KFC, Pizza Hut and Dominos go desi with their menus

  • More than a quarter of the menus of top QSRs like Pizza Hut, Dominos, Subway, McDonald’s and KFC are “Indianized”.
  • Domino’s Pizza, Subway, McDonald’s and Burger King are targeting the Indian taste palate, according to a report by Sharekhan.
  • The Indian QSR market is expected to grow by 23% over the next three years, according to Sharekhan.

In recent decades, Indians have changed Chinese cuisine and spices so much that Indochinese has become a cuisine in its own right. A similar transformation is underway in Americanized fast foods like burgers, pizzas and subs. However, this time the change is more organized as it is driven by quick service restaurants or QSRs – instead of dhabas and hawkers, which had started the Indochinese food revolution.

According to a report by Sharekhan, more than a quarter of menus at top QSRs like Pizza Hut, Dominos, Subway, McDonald’s and KFC have been ‘Indianized’. Of these, the most Indianized of menus is offered by Burger King – with more than 40% of its offerings like veg makhani burst burgers and aloo tikki burgers.

KFC’s biryani bucket combinations that offer chicken thighs with a spicy sauce and flavored rice are an Indian alternative to its popular international combo – rice with strips.

“Major international brands such as Domino’s Pizza, Subway, McDonald’s and Burger King have incorporated a wide range of products designed to target the Indian palate into their menus. These offers respond to changing customer preferences, thereby increasing aggregate demand,” the Sharekhan report said.

Who moved my cheese – no paneer

Many of these American food chains’ menu changes cater to vegetarians, with paneer being the most popular option. The second most popular addition is the tandoor versions added to pizzas, burgers, and even subs and salads – which are on both vegetarian and non-vegetarian menus.

Then there are the spicier versions offered by McDonald’s, which has also introduced a chatpata spice blend much like its peri peri blend. Tikkas and tikkis have also made their way onto menus, in addition to pasta.

However, a few outlets are also trying to mix other international menus with Indian options like the Mexican aloo tikki – catering to India’s love for mixing spices and taste palates.

Mark % of Indianized menu Examples of Indian Items
Dominoes 24% Kadhai paneer pizza, Achaari do pyaaza pizza, Tikka masala pasta, Peppy paneer
Subway 34% Tandoori tofu sub, Aloo patty sub, Chatpata chana sub, Hara bhara sub
pizza hut 25% Tandoori Mushroom Pizza, Spicy Paneer Pizza, Classic Paneer Pizza
McDonald’s 34% Chicken kebab burger, Masala wedges, Mexican Aloo Tikki burger
Burger King 42% Veg makhani burst burger, Tikki twist burger, Chicken Makhani burger
KFC 31% Classic Biryani Chicken Buckets; Combos with Hyderabadi biryani and sauces

Data source: Sharekhan

Value, location – the backcountry mantras

Menu localization is one of the growth themes pursued by Indian QSRs, which are largely dominated by US-origin brands. The Indian QSR market is expected to grow by 23% over the next three years, driven by the post-pandemic surge in orders through aggregation platforms such as Zomato and Swiggy.

“In the post-Covid era, a significant shift to branded products, increasing frequency of orders on delivery platforms and strong traction for value products provide QSR players with ample leeway to rapidly expand their penetration in the Indian market,” the Sharekhan report said.

The report also identified strengths in Tier II, Tier III, and even Tier IV cities where menu localization will help capture more market share, while providing value options for cost-conscious younger customers. .

With customers accustomed to food being delivered to their doorstep at the touch of a button and at any time of the day, convenience has become key and is helping to drive delivery growth, according to the report. It is already moving away from occasion-based orders to business-as-usual orders, the report adds.

However, to compete with the large ecosystem or unorganized players like local restaurants and food chains that provide all the options, QSRs have to work harder for their market share.

“The demanding nature of Indian customers pushes QSRs to introduce products that go beyond the basics,” the Sharekhan report states.

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Freeda S. Scott