Using the corporate kitchen model, B2B foodtech player Elior India dishes out 200k meals a day across offices
It is not uncommon for lunch meetings at offices across India to host a colourful display of takeout boxes, thanks to the ease that foodtech startups like Zomato and Swiggy offer.
For, it is easy to order out when you are caught up with deadlines and in endless meetings, but not all options are healthy. It was to address this concern for Indian employees that France-based B2B food catering tech company Elior Group started operations in the country in 2017.
The company has built ‘corporate restaurants’ that focus on providing healthy and sustainable meals.
“When we say sustainable meals, we not only mean healthy meals, but also how the raw materials are procured. The question to be asked is whether they been procured in the right and sustainable way,” Philippe Guillemot, CEO, Elior Group, says.
In fiscal 2017-18, Elior Group had made a revenue of €4,886 million. Elior has over 110,000 employees across three continents, and serves over five million people on a daily basis in 23,500 corporate restaurants across three continents.
The company started its operations in India, with its two acquisitions of Megabite and CRCL. In November 2019, the company launched its new app for corporate employees. Named El Chef, the platform enables employees to create their favourite menus, monitor order updates and history, and check out weekly plans and meals based on their needs.
Sanjay Kumar, MD and CEO, Elior India, notes that an in-house ordering app like El Chef helps any professional work around their work-day challenges like extended meetings, deadlines, and general work pressure.
The platform is a first-of-its-kind digital initiative by Elior that not only acts as an extensive menu and ordering platform, but also focuses on the consumer’s consumption patterns, preferences, and trends, and offers healthy options.
The team has set up production facilities in Delhi and serves more than 2,00,000 meals a day. The Elior India team has over 4,500 employees.
It is no secret that the food services market is large. A report by National Restaurant Association of India placed the market at Rs 4.23 lakh crore in 2018-19, and reported that the market will touch Rs 6 lakh crore by 2022. Of this, the B2B segment holds a large chunk.
The catering services market, in fact, has seen a consistent 15-30 percent growth in five years.
“We are currently operational in six countries - France, Spain, Italy, the US, the UK, and India. We are leaders in France, Spain, and Italy and are fast growing in the UK, the US, and India. While we are a foodtech company, the most important aspect is the food itself, and tech is the next layer that makes integration stronger.”
He adds that the technology also comes into play at the canteens, eliminating the use of a cashier. The idea is to help guests access food in a simpler manner. “India is one of the main focus areas. We are looking at the corporate market strongly,” he explains.
Harnessing technology for every meal
Sanjay explains that Elior is a pureplay food services company in India. From around 120,000 meals a day when it started operations in India, Elior Group now dishes out over 200,000 meals a day.
“Every meal cannot be ordered individually by the consumer. And every corporate has different rules—some reimburse for food, some don’t, and some partially do. It is about designing a platform that takes care of the consumer at the site. It is different from Amazon or Flipkart. Here, we have to build an app for a corporate in Whitefield that has a different menu for an office two blocks away,” explains Sanjay.
This is where technology comes in, helping Elior build menus based on the consumers’ needs in each geography. The chef has access to data on the demography and the needs of the end consumer.
“The platform helps the consumer decide what they want to eat. This in turn helps build the meals,” says Sanjay. This also in helps in procurement based on each organisational need.
Currently, while India has traditional restaurant players like Adigas and MTR looking at corporate meal catering, several startups are eyeing the B2B foodtech market as well. Swiggy is believed to be looking at the space closely, with Swiggy Cafe, which currently is in the experimental stage.
Apart from that there is B2B foodtech app Hungerbox that works as an aggregator. Elior however works more on a corporate kitchen model. Sanjay explains the idea is to create segments in the market that didn’t exist.
The team is now looking to expand deeper in India.
(Edited Evelyn Ratnakumar)