As a part of its initiative to solve the growing discontent between restaurant owners and food aggregator startups, the Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) convened a meeting on Tuesday, January 7. The meeting was attended by representatives of the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) and food delivery platforms — Swiggy, Zomato and UberEats.
Speaking after the day’s proceedings, NRAI told Inc42 that the discussion was held on three main agenda points — cloud kitchens, exclusivity on aggregator platforms and issues with the algorithms used by food delivery platforms and aggregators. The DPIIT will be communicating the outcome of the discussion after “due deliberations”, NRAI added in its statement.
NRAI’s team comprised of Dominos India CEO Pratik Pota and NRAI secretary general Prakul Kumar, among others. The food aggregator businesses were represented by Swiggy’s CFO Rahul Bothra and Zomato CFO Akriti Chopra, NRAI told Inc42.
NRAI made a presentation on the algorithms used by food aggregators and claimed that the businesses promote the exclusivity of restaurants on their platforms. On the other hand, representatives from Zomato, Swiggy, and UberEats made a presentation on cloud kitchens, addressing the issues related to it.
The battle between food aggregators and restaurants began in August 2019 after over 300 restaurants under NRAI started a #Logout campaign by delisting themselves from platforms such as Zomato Gold, EazyDiner, Nearbuy, and MagicPin among others.
The protest started off with 300 restaurants in the Delhi NCR region, which includes Gurugram, but soon spread to 1200 restaurants across major Indian cities. The restaurants association NRAI had highlighted issues such as “unreasonably high commissions, payment terms and arbitrarily applied additional charges” to be a part of the online food delivery and aggregator platforms.
Soon after, Zomato and Swiggy started holding discussions with NRAI to resolve the matter. So far the discussions have led to changes in some features and policies of the food aggregators businesses. For instance, Zomato shut down its Infinity Dining business and reviewed its Zomato Gold services in mid-2019.
Zomato’s Infinity Dining was launched in 2018 on an all-you-can-eat model. Infinity Dining allowed users to avail unlimited serving of the whole menu at a fixed per-person price, which was decided by the restaurants and was also provided access to open bars.
In October 2019, Swiggy had also sent a detailed set of suggestions to NRAI to resolve the long-standing issues between the two.