ISLAMABAD: The teenagers of the twin cities are spending the biggest chunk of their ‘budget’ on eating out in fast food restaurants with their friends and colleagues, a survey claimed on Saturday.
As the fast food business flourishes all over the country, school-children, college and university students, as well as young employees, are opting to have their lunch at restaurants that sell fast food, which most parents and doctors claim is ‘junk food’.
In a habit that was once only associated with the upper middle class or the elite in Pakistan, dining out has become part of a new ‘urban culture’ of hanging out with friends.
With the changing habits of youth, people have also witnessed a boom in the food business, as international fast food chains set up shop across the country.
A survey conducted by the Cost and Management Institute of Pakistan showed that 90% of the people it had questioned said food business was a high growth enterprise whereas eight per cent saw normal growth and only two believed here was no growth in food business.
ICMAP experts believe that over the period, due to various socio-cultural change, it has been observed that there is a paradigm shift in the way eating habits prevailed a decade before. Globalisation, not only opened the doors of opportunities for businesses, also brought a change in consumers preference for food items.
However, the current survey report says the change started in the late 1990s, when people from every class, especially young girls and boys, were to be seen at eating spots almost daily.
It said the social media revolution has also had an impact on the eating habits of millennials, as many ‘online profiles’ are used for uploading pictures in which young people can be seen hanging out, or having a meal, with their friends.
“Almost every restaurant in the twin cities is filled to capacity all day, every day. This signifies the overpowering likeness people have for fast food in Pakistan,” the report observed.
Ayesha Ahmad, an 18 year-old studying at a local institute, told a reporter that she believes exam week is generally considered the most stressful period for a student during a school year, and that is when they feel the need to relax by having a good meal at their favourite restaurant.
Another teen, Yusra Azam says, “I love to go out for lunch with my ‘besties’ because the taste of restaurant food is so good.”
A report by Bloomberg published on its website states that eating out will become a necessity over a period of time in Pakistan.
The report quoted Naim Anwar, who had spent most of his career in the insurance business, that buying local franchise rights for Texas-based fried chicken chain Golden Chick was a no-brainer.
According to Bloomberg food franchises are booming across Pakistan’s big cities as incomes swell and more women enter the workforce, leaving them with less time and inclination to fulfill the traditional role of cooking for the family.
It said that almost two-thirds of the 200 million population are younger than 30 and cultural attitudes are changing in the Islamic Republic, helping make it the fastest-growing retail market.
Eating out will soon become a “necessity over the weekdays,” said Anwar. “Home-cooked food will become a luxury over the weekend.”
According to the report, Pizza Hut plans to double its Pakistan stores to as many as 150 over the next five years and will list locally in that period. Foodpanda, backed by Germany’s Rocket Internet SE, expects to deliver meals to two million hungry Pakistanis each month by 2021 from about 400,000 now.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 14th, 2018.
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