Vegetarian Swedish “meatballs” and build-it-yourself furniture have finally arrived in India, the AFP reports. Although the home furnishing behemoth first tapped the Chinese market in 1998, its new Hyderabad store marks the company’s entry into the world’s second most populous country.
Motorized rickshaws adorned with the IKEA logo and decked in blue and yellow—the colors of the Swedish flag—scooted around the South Indian city to promote the store about a month before it debuted. When it did finally open for business, about 200 customers who had lined up in an underground car park were greeted by a military band. One clothing factory worker traveled 360 miles from Bangalore just to check it out.
A canteen inside the outlet has tailored its menu to local tastes. The Swedish meatballs—an IKEA staple—were offered in chicken and vegetarian versions, as many people in India have religious or cultural reasons for not eating beef, pork, or meat in general.
Biryani (a rice dish), samosas (filled pastries), and meatless hotdogs are also on the menu. Different IKEA outlets around the world tend to offer localized menus featuring national specialties. They offer crayfish in Japan, shawarma in Dubai, cabbage soup in the Czech Republic, macarons in France, fish and chips in the UK, and, oddly enough, Thai curry in Switzerland.
IKEA plans to open 24 other outlets in India by 2025. However, some have questioned whether the concept of self-assembled furniture will catch on in the country of 1.25 billion. Analysts say the idea of DIY homemaking is unpopular, and spending levels are low. However, affordable items are on offer at the Hyderabad outlet, like a children’s six-piece bowl set for under $2.
[h/t The Guardian]