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Online grocer BigBasket.com will now sell ready-to-cook meals, hawking pre-packed ingredients and freshly cut vegetables with recipes, in its latest offering to attract newer, younger consumers in metros looking for faster and more convenient forms of food consumption.

The concept, said a top executive at the retailer, is borrowed from American start-up Blue Apron, a $2 billion food delivery firm based in Silicon Valley. It ships portions of ingredients and vegetables chopped and packed to be cooked at home.

“We want to do what Blue Apron has done in America and no one has consolidated that space in the Indian market," added Hari Menon, chief executive officer of BigBasket.com.

The retailer has tied up with local food delivery start-up Chefkraft in Bengaluru, to create HappyChef, a brand that will deliver gourmet salads and packaged portions of fresh ingredients (vegetables, meats) of Thai, Mexican and Italian dishes along with recipes to its customers who can prepare the meals at home.

For the first month, BigBasket.com, which has so far raised about 370 crore from investors such as Helion Ventures and Zodius Capital, is looking at at least a 100 deliveries a day, a 2% conversion rate of its grocery orders in Bengaluru that are estimated at 6,000-6,500 a day.

Food delivery start-ups such as Chefkraft in south India and Cookfresh in Delhi have emerged in dense pockets of the country where young, middle-aged, working individuals are willing to outsource such services at a cost.

The market for out-of-home consumption of food is pegged at 6,000 crore.

The concept that started in Bengaluru, will be replicated in Mumbai over the next month, as Menon recruits more such start-ups, specially in the National Capital Region to service the six cities it sells groceries in.

It will initially sell ingredients for cuisines such as Italian, Chinese, Mexican, with dishes such as cranberry and pear salad, lamb burgers with garlic curry mayo, lentil tacos with tahini yogurt among others, priced at 260-600. Indian dishes will soon be inserted in the menu.

“It clearly looks like a niche segment that might generate consumer interest, say over the weekend," added Raja Lahiri, partner (advisory services) at Grant Thornton.

Take Sahiba Singh, a 29-year-old professional choreographer in Bengaluru, who would on occasion indulge in such a cooking exercise, as long as the cost benefit is intact. “I would love to, just so I can avoid going out and shopping for the ingredients," she added, “but I would compare the cost of eating out versus cooking in."

According to Lahiri, the ready-to-eat category sees far more adoption, but Menon is not keen on that market, since he feels it is too crowded.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Suneera Tandon

Suneera Tandon is a New Delhi based reporter covering consumer goods for Mint. Suneera reports on fast moving consumer goods makers, retailers as well as other consumer-facing businesses such as restaurants and malls. She is deeply interested in what consumers across urban and rural India buy, wear and eat. Suneera holds a masters degree in English Literature from the University of Delhi.
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