India’s Century Old Lunch Delivery Service Changes with the Times


For many office workers in Mumbai, a home cooked hot lunch is a staple thanks to a 5,000 man army known as the dabbawallahs. These men collect and deliver over 200,000 hot meals every day but as time goes by, the city and the service is changing.

Traditionally, dabbawallahs would collect meals from office workers homes allowing for them to eat a hot lunch at an affordable rate. With India’s economy on the rise though, people can afford more options and some Indians are reaping the benefits.

Nityanand Shetty is the head chef at Calorie Care, a high end delivery service which caters to the health conscious. “It’s a new trend that’s been started. … It’s a traditional dabbawallah but at a premium kind of a thing, where the customer is conscious about what he’s eating, he’s not bothered about what price he’s paying,” Shetty says.

Calorie Care has hundreds of clients each day so far and because of their healthy mission, it makes preparing the meals a complicated process. Each meal has a specific calorie count and has to be prepared by 9a.m. to be ready for the dabbawallah’s pickup.

While the food may have evolved, the dabbawallah system looks set to stay for a long time to come as the industry is still growing by 10% to 15% each year. It’s a complicated process and requires extremely specific timing to make sure meals reach the right person on time, but despite that they have an accuracy of less than one mistake in every 6 million deliveries.

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