Zomato to check out cloud kitchens hosting over 10 brands

Food aggregator Zomato said Friday it will conduct a physical examination of cloud kitchens that operate more than 10 brands from a single location in a bid to curb malpractice by operators. “Although there is no exact science of the right number of brands, we believe that even the most regulated outlets in the industry do not see operational benefits and customer confidence in operating multiple brands from one kitchen,” Zomato said in a blog post.

The food aggregator noted that in the recent past, the statutory Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) also stated that cloud kitchen entities are free to operate multiple brands on a single FSSAI license.

However, it has argued that some night-flying operators, who account for less than 0.2 percent of registered kitchens, abuse this flexibility in law by creating countless brands of the same kitchen.

According to Zomato, these brands have little differentiation in their product offering; Instead, they confuse/deceive customers by creating a false perception of selection, when in reality there are none.

“Most of the brands run by these operators also have terrible reviews and ratings on our platform. These operators discredit the restaurant industry as a whole, and harm us all in more ways than one,” she said in a blog post.

Detailing why this leads to a poor customer experience, the blog said that these operators often create multiple brands with very little differentiation in the actual product (the dishes or the same food experience) offered to customers.

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In addition, managing many brands and kitchens is operationally complex, and unless done with the SOP and proper oversight, this leads to high inconsistencies in food quality and hygiene, the food aggregator said.

Over the past few weeks, Zomato said it has been working with the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) and other restaurant partners to craft the right approach to curbing these practices.

“In deliberations with Zomato, we felt this was an acceptable temporary solution as the Zomato team conducts an initial physical examination of these sites.

“We will work further with the Zomato team in ascertaining whether these kitchens comply with accepted industry standards and suggesting solutions thereon. The idea is to create and nurture a healthy ecosystem,” said Kabir Suri, President of NRAI.

“From now on, we will manually check any physical site that manages more than 10 brands from a single site,” Zomato said.

The aggregator said it will whitelist restaurant partners who offer a great experience other than the aforementioned operators from this manual check so that they do not experience delays while scaling their business.

Suggested restaurant partners who don’t make it to the whitelist and think they offer highly differentiated brands (more than 10) from the same building to connect with the company.

“Our teams will review your proposed offer, kitchen space (is it big enough to host and be fair to multiple kitchens), historical customer experience on Zomato for your existing listings among other things. We will also collaborate with FSSAI at their request so that it helps our authorities,” the blog added. .

Zomato’s decision comes on the heels of a series of tweets on Twitter a few weeks ago about several brands that run the same kitchen.

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