Online meat sales soar during lockdown

Retailers say customers give preference to hygiene and safety

Published - May 17, 2020 11:59 pm IST - CHENNAI

In demand:  Online vendors continued to record rise in sales even after regular shops were allowed to reopen.

In demand: Online vendors continued to record rise in sales even after regular shops were allowed to reopen.

Startups in the organised fish, meat and poultry space have witnessed a 300% growth in sales during lockdown. They expect the trend to continue even after the lockdown is lifted.

While the unorganised markets remained closed during the initial few days, many online startups in this space operated with home delivery options.

Sushil Kanugolu, Managing Director and CEO of Fipola Retail India, said that during the lockdown his business had grown three-fold. “People from all age categories started buying meat from online. We expected a shift in trend after unorganised butcher shops opened shops during the first week of May but our sales were positive. People have understood the need for buying meat at safe and hygienic places,” he said. “We are soon coming up with six more stores and that will help us cover the entire Chennai region,” Mr. Kanugolu said. Fipola serves over 4,00,000 customers in Chennai alone.

Positive movement

Nishanth Chandran, Founder and CEO, Tendercuts. said, “COVID-19 has created a positive movement for the company. The customers would have taken several years to switch to hygienic chicken, mutton and seafood brands. We feel that consumer behaviour is happening at a much rapid pace. We generally used to see more sales on weekends, especially on Sunday before the lockdown. But, after the lockdown came into effect, the sales have been spread evenly across weekdays which is a new trend observed by us.” The company currently serves around 5,00,000 customers across Chennai and Hyderabad.

Since most of these outlets were spacious, it was convenient for customers to maintain physical distancing. Also, the knives were sterilised. The butchers too wear gloves and masks.

Bengaluru-based FreshToHome witnessed good growth in the Chennai market. Its CEO Shan Kadavil said, “Sales went up by 30-50% in the areas which were not sealed.” Consumers who purchased only on weekends purchased during weekdays too.

Malini S. who regularly purchases meat from the neighbourhood shops, said, “Placed an order for meat online for the first time after lockdown. I was initially wondering how it would be but the meat was good and fresh. I'm now visiting the store and found it more comfortable than the unorganised shops,” she added.

The overall non-vegetarian market in India was ₹2,20,000 crore a year out of which the poultry market contributed ₹66,000 crore. As far as Chennai is concerned the overall non-veg market is pegged at ₹3,000 crore a month and of this the poultry market constituted ₹1,050 crore.

Ballpark estimates show that Chennai has 10 organised players in this space and several thousands in the unorganised space. Each area in Chennai on an average has 10 to 15 meat/chicken shops with an average space of 200-300 sq. ft.

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