By Nitya Pandit
With the rising consumer awareness about the hygiene and cleanliness levels in the food industry, fast food chains like McDonald’s has been put under the spotlight. The popular quick service restaurant has closed down a number of its outlets recently, providing an opportunity for the competitors to attract a share of McDonald’s customers. After a recent check at a McD outlet in Mumbai, the conditions were so poor that the outlet was given a warning and 15 days to show improvement.
Background and current situation
McDonald’s experiencing a rough patch in India is not just a recent issue. The fight between the fast-food giant and its local partner has been an ongoing dispute since 2013. In August of the same year, McD dismissed Vikram Bakshi as the Managing Director of Connaught Plaza Restaurants Private Limited (CPRL), which is responsible for the operations of the McDonald’s chain in North and East India, following which Bakshi went to Company Law Board. The fast-food chain, in London, also begun arbitration proceedings against Bakshi. From 27 outlet launches in 2012, the number fell to only 1 in 2017.
Currently, not only is there friction between its local unit and its parent company but also 80 outlets have been shut down in the past 2 weeks. The large MNC has also issued a health advisory on the meals for the currently open units. Even back in July 2017 Vikram Bakshi, now the former MD of CPRL, had raised concerns about the quality of food being served and his ability to control the food supply.
How have the competitors benefited?
Taking advantage of the current situation of McDonald’s, its competitors like Burger King, KFC, and Carl’s Jr. are enjoying the additional value meals space available after space was vacated by McDonald’s, considering the outlets’ shut down in the north and east India. Having stepped up their game, these rivals have already gained from increased sales in the December quarter by offering appealing value-meal packages. The chief executive of Burger King has admitted that the fast-food chain has used this opportunity to push attractive deals, filling the void caused by the partial absence of McDonald’s. Even Carl’s Jr, the US chain, improved its value pricing, which resulted in a partial reason for the chain’s 22 per cent sales growth between 2016-17.
Status of hygiene now
There has been a transition of importance given by consumers on price, taste and convenience to health, wellness and safety of the food. Hence, we notice a rise in the consumer base that is concerned about the quality and safety of food. Nowadays, consumers have high expectations from all stages of the food chain – thus in this industry, preventive measures have been introduced on different levels of production and distribution chain. This encourages all stakeholders involved, from the farms to the consumers, to be more responsible and innovative.
McDonald’s has been warned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) because of allegations about the fast food chain breaching the safety standards. Recently, FDA even did a surprise check at one McDonald’s outlet in Mumbai—the allegation made included the violation of Food Safety Standards Act due to unhygienic conditions and the incorrect display of license copy. HardCastle Restaurants that runs the chain in South and West India is taking responsibility and has sent in the response regarding the points made. McDonald’s needs to continue working on the enquiries it received from the FDA during its routinely investigation. In addition to McDonald’s, other players in the food industry must also ensure that a good standard is maintained for the kitchen conditions and cleanliness of the employees, according to the Food Safety Standards Act.
Fearured Image Source: Flickr