While cities in the West may see lunch delivery services as being the epitome of sophistication, they have nothing on the efficiency and sustainability of the dabbawallahs of Mumbai.
Every day, about 4,000 delivery men pick up tiffin boxes from homes around the city in the late morning, delivering them to office workers by way of train and bicycle, then collect the empty tins and return them in the afternoon.
This use of reusable tin tiffins, transported by bicycle and public transport means the carbon footprint is low and there is negligible waste in a country that throws away more than 25,000 tonnes of plastic a day1.
These intrepid delivery men negotiate the busy streets of Mumbai with stacks of metal tiffin boxes, catering to some 200,000 office workers each day. Delivering hot lunches and afternoon tea, the error rate is reported to be just one delivery in 16 million2 — an achievement that has attracted the attention of global parcel giant FedEx, eager to discover the secrets of their success.
The industry, which has been going for 125 years is still growing, despite the modern-day obstacles of traffic and congestion. The epitome of jugaad, this is a business built on sustainability that thrives without technology and is teaching logistics companies far more advanced, how to be successful.
Jugaad, the ability to come up with creative and low-cost solutions is very much evident in other areas of the Indian economy. At Eastspring Investments, our investment professionals are always on the lookout to uncover potential opportunities in India’s innovative companies. Find out more at www.eastspring.com