This is a guest post by Tithe Farhana. She has previously written for publications including The Daily Star (Bangladesh)
Bangladesh’s economy has been transforming slowly from agriculture to manufacturing & service industries; another consequential effect sees a shift from extended families to nuclear families, where both husband and wife are working and engaging in economic activities outside the home. This social transformation includes eating out and dining out, including fast food.
Akku Chowdhury, Executive Director of Transcom Foods Limited, defined “fast food as the term for fastest life style of modern society, we have general idea that fast food means MacDonald or Italian Dishes, but it can be local dishes and menus even Birani/ Chicken Curry can be regarded as fast food, if it is served quickly and saved time for taking.”
Dual forces of globalization are causing rapid world wide change in food supplies, food consumption behaviour and population health. One of the major changes over the last 10 years has been enlarged the development and marketing of western fast food habit in Bangladesh. Information technology, rapid growth of corporate houses, private universities and hectic life-style are totally craft a path to the new thinking, new culture and new life style, the popularity of the fast food is consequence of the changes of culture and traditions of life.
Shafiul Alam Choudhury, CEO of Pizza Inn, shared his vast experience “I had been working in famous fast food shops in Germany for 28 years, I saw the reality and now observing the change and consequences of globalization. European life style, economic existence and overall environment are so fast that naturally they are practicing dining out. Similarly, we are marching the fastest life style; it is quite natural to deal with changing food habits”.
The large fast food outlets started in Bangladesh in 1990s do well, especially amongst the younger generations and the corporate people who were pioneers of new trend. At first the fast food shops were started in the Baily Road, the most sophisticated locality that period. Aftermath a number of fast food shops opened in Dhaka city. Local entrepreneurs initiated and lead to make it popular & profitable and now the large corporate, conglomerates like Opex & Sinha Group, R.A.K group and even the Defense Authority have also invested. This investor demanding this sector as a fast moving consumer food industry, size of this industry come up to tk. 1000 crore till now & is growing.
“This industry is spiralling and private entrepreneurs are feeling save on return on capital, so they are investing money and taking risk along with the international food chain shops are coming,” claimed Mr. Akku Chowdhury. Local Brands Swiss, Helvetia and BFC launched to establish local brand and doing well in the most crowded city of Bangladesh, at the same time the country observed the entrance of international chains during early of this decade.
Fast food bosses argue that the quality, standard, & maintaining of hygiene issues are important for them. Kazi Jahidul Hoque, a restaurant manager, explained that “when I use imported cheese or meat as raw materials, obiously, the cost will be higher”. But the other side of the coin is alarming and threat for the public health. Even though small fast food shops are available in every street, alley & almost every shopping centre in Dhaka & other cities, no authority is responsible to check the quality & standard of foods for the sake of public health. They have little care for the quality & standard, and are making & processing foods in a dirty kitchen with unclean equipment and little or no orientation & experience of making such foods.
Kazi Jahidul Hoque said “we care not just about the making process but also serving method, customer satisfaction and quick movement and actions on demand of customers”. Akku Chowdhury added that “our company ensures training & skill development through different programs after hiring them.”
But others claimed that there is no enough & quality institutions which could provide necessary training & development scope. Whereas this sector has been a source of huge employment generation for this overpopulated country, what type of training they need? Rubina.H.Farouq, Director of Institute of Hotel Management and Hospitality Limited replied that, “there are several aspects to know related to this industry, such as, safety & hygiene, food processing & cooking, customer service, supply chain management & also marketing, it could also be a backward linkage for our tourism industry”.
Recently KFC and Pizza Hut have joined their hands with United Nations World Food Programme to widen awareness on hunger and to sustain WFP to endow with meals to children in schools, helping to ensure they achieved an education. It will also significantly reduce their malnutrition, setting them up for a more healthy and productive life.
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Filed in: Bangladesh,Culture