Tuesday, 28 March, 2023

Fast Food Culture Overtaking Our Traditional Culture

Dr P R Datta

Fast-food culture is rapidly spreading in Bangladesh. With many burger joints and pizza parlours, the country is becoming a haven for international fast-food chains. While some may see this as a positive development, others are concerned that it will deteriorate traditional Bangladeshi culture. Globally, the fast-food industry is expanding. The global fast-food market was estimated to be worth $570 billion in 2017 and is expected to grow to $821 billion by 2030. This expansion is being fuelled in part by rising demand for convenience and affordability. Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) was the first fast food chain in Bangladesh, opening in Dhaka in 1996. Since then, several other international chains, including Pizza Hut, Domino's, Burger King, and CP Five star, have followed suit. According to Euromonitor International, the value of Bangladesh's fast-food market increased by 13% between 2012 and 2017. According to a recent Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) report, the sector is expected to grow over the next five years at a 15% annual rate, making it one of Bangladesh's fastest-growing industries. The vast majority of Bangladesh's fast-food outlets are concentrated in Dhaka, the capital city of more than 18 million people. There are, however, an increasing number of outlets in other major cities, including Chittagong, Sylhet, and Rajshahi.

The number of fast-food restaurants has more than doubled in the last decade. Bangladesh now has over 1,000 fast food restaurants, which is expected to grow. The fast-food industry in Bangladesh is expanding due to various factors, including rising population, increased urbanisation, and rising disposable income. Bangladesh's population is growing at a 1.2% annual rate. This means that fast-food restaurants will have more potential customers. Bangladesh's urbanisation rate is also rising. Only 28% of the population lived in cities in 2001. By 2011, this figure had risen to 33%. In 2020, the population increased by 3.09 percent from 2019.This means that more people live where fast-food restaurants are likely to be found. Bangladeshis' disposable income is also rising. Another driving force behind growth is the rising disposable income of Bangladesh's middle class. According to World Bank data, the average monthly household income increased to $250 in 2017 from $200 in 2016. People now have more money to spend on eating out, which has boosted sales at fast-food restaurants. The per capita GDP in 2010 was USD 1,060. It was $1,380 in 2016. Because of this, people will have more money to spend on things like fast food.

One factor driving this growth is population growth. Bangladesh's population is more than 160 million people, which is expected to increase to 180 million by 2030. (UN world population prospect, 2019). As the population has grown, so has urbanisation, with more people moving to cities. As a result, more people are eating out or getting takeout from restaurants. Another factor driving the growth is changing lifestyles and tastes. The younger generation, in particular, is becoming more exposed to Western culture via television, movies, and social media. As a result, they have developed a taste for Western foods such as burgers and pizza. In addition, they are less likely to prepare traditional Bangladeshi meals at home.Another factor contributing to fast food's popularity in Bangladesh is the growing number of working women. According to the BBS report, nearly 40% of all women between the ages of 15 and 29 are now employed, up from 25% a decade ago. This has resulted in a shift in eating habits, with more people preferring quick and convenient meals from restaurants and takeaways to cooking at home. As more women enter the labour force, they have less time to prepare traditional home meals. Instead, they eat at fast food restaurants.

The rise of fast-food culture in Bangladesh has both benefits and drawbacks. On the one hand, it has increased the variety and convenience of our diets. On the other hand, it has contributed to our population's rising rates of obesity and diabetes. It can be harmful to one's mental health, and this is because a high junk food intake has been linked to depression and anxiety.

Furthermore, there are fears that it will lead to the deterioration of traditional Bangladeshi cuisine and culture. It is unclear how much of an impact fast-food culture will have on Bangladesh. However, to make informed decisions about our diets and lifestyles, we must be aware of the potential risks and benefits. Bangladeshis have adopted a more westernised lifestyle due to globalisation and modernisation. This has resulted in a shift in eating habits, with an increasing number of people opting for fast food over traditional Bangladeshi cuisine. The growth of the fast-food industry in has contributed to the rise in obesity levels. In 2010, only 3% of adults were obese; by 2016, this had risen to 7%. Another negative impact is that the industry's growth has led to environmental pollution due to increased plastic waste from packaging materials. However, there are also some positive impacts of the industry's growth, such as employment generation and foreign currency earnings from tourists visiting fast food outlets.

The fast-food industry is a real threat to local culture in Bangladesh. Bangladesh has a long and rich history, and its people have a strong sense of identity. But the rise of fast-food chains is eroding this culture. Bangladeshis are becoming more reliant on these chains for their meals. This is because they are convenient and often cheaper than traditional Bangladeshi restaurants. As a result, many local eateries are struggling to compete and are being forced to close down. The loss of these restaurants is not just an economic issue; it's also cultural. Traditional Bangladeshi cuisine is unique, delicious, and essential to the country's heritage. When local restaurants disappear, so does this valuable part of Bangladeshi culture.What's more, the rise of fast food is having an impact on the health of Bangladeshis. These chains typically serve unhealthy food high in calories, fat, and salt. The fast-food industry is a real threat to local culture in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh's most popular fast-food restaurants are KFC, Burger King, BFC, Pizza Hut, Dominos, Khanna's, Chillox Burger, and Tasty Treats. According to a World Health Organization report, the fast-food industry in Bangladesh is expanding at an alarming rate. In Bangladesh, the number of fast-food restaurants increased from 10 in 2010 to over 1000 in 2016. This rapid expansion, however, is not without its challenges. Here are some of the significant challenges confronting Bangladesh's fast-food industry: (1)Lack of awareness about healthy eating: With the majority of the population being rural and illiterate, there is a lack of awareness about healthy eating and the importance of balanced diets. This means that people are more likely to opt for quick and easy junk food options rather than taking the time to prepare a healthy meal; (2) Lack of regulation: There is currently no regulation surrounding the fast-food industry in Bangladesh, which means that any type of food can be sold as long as it meets minimum hygiene standards. This lack of regulation means that many unscrupulous businesses can get away with selling sub-standard or even dangerous products; (3) Poor working conditions: The fast-food sector in Bangladesh is primarily made up of small, family-run businesses that often do not have the resources to provide their employees with proper working conditions. As such, workers are usually required to work long hours for little pay and without benefits such as sick days or holidays. This can lead to widespread exploitation and abuse, and a high turnover rate as workers move from one job to another in search of better conditions; (4) Environmental pollution: The disposal of waste from fast food outlets is often done without any thought for the environment. This can lead to serious pollution problems, especially in areas with no proper infrastructure for dealing with waste disposal; (5) Competition from big brands: In recent years, we have seen several multinational fast-food chains setting up shop in Bangladesh. These big brands have deep pockets and can afford to undercut local businesses on price while still providing higher quality products and better service levels. This has put immense pressure on small businesses that are struggling to compete.

Fast food is now considered a status symbol in Bangladesh for many. It is regarded as a sign that one is financially secure and can afford to eat out. This is especially true for the younger generation, who constantly look for ways to flaunt their accomplishments. Fast food's popularity has also resulted in the rise of delivery services such as Food panda, Pathao Food, Sohoz Food, and Hungry Naki. These businesses make it even easier to get your favourite meals without leaving your house or office. With most people's hectic lifestyles, it's no surprise that fast food has become so popular in Bangladesh. However, the Bangladeshi fast-food industry has come under fire in recent years due to various challenges, but it shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. With a growing population and an increasing desire for convenience, it appears likely that these issues will only worsen in the coming years unless something is done to address them head-on. Bangladeshis must be aware of the danger and take precautions to protect their traditions and health.


The writer is educator, author and researcher