Covid-19 drives shift towards organised players in fresh meat segment

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani New Delhi | Updated on August 19, 2020

Consumers favour trusted brands amidst safety concerns; online buying gaining ground

With growing concerns around hygiene and safety due to the Covid-19 pandemic, consumers are increasingly shifting to organised players to source fresh meat and seafood products. As they are also turning to cooking at home, their experiments with non-vegetarian ready-to-cook and value-added products are also gaining ground.

According to industry estimates, branded players contribute only 5-10 per cent to the extremely fragmented $35-$40 billion meat industry, but organised players believe this share could nearly double due to the pandemic. Meat delivery players in this space have been gaining share in the segment in the past few months, as consumers are getting used to buying such products online.

Deepanshu Manchanda, Founder & CEO, ZapprFresh, said that the demand for fresh meat products is back to pre-Covid-19 levels and that the company is witnessing 100 per cent growth y-o-y. “We are adding new customers and seeing higher repeat purchases. Consumers want to buy such products from trusted brands instead of the unbranded local butcher shops. These trends are not only visible in metros but also in tier-1 markets,” he added.

The technology-integrated fresh meat brand operates in eight cities, including Delhi-NCR, Chandigarh, Mohali, Ghaziabad and Jaipur. “We are also very excited about the ready-to-cook and heat-and-eat meals segment and have added nearly 20 new products in the last two months. We are expecting to see strong traction for such products in the coming months,” Manchanda said.

Starters, curries, pickles

TenderCuts, which operates 20 stores in Chennai and Hyderabad and follows an omni-channel strategy, has been witnessing a nearly 3x jump in demand. Nishanth Chandran, Founder & CEO, TenderCuts, said, “Just as we saw during the demonetisation period, consumers swiftly shifted to digital payments. Similarly, the pandemic has accelerated the shift towards organised players in the fresh meat and seafood segment. We expect to close this year with revenues of ₹150 crore due to these strong demand trends.”

The company said currently retail stores are contributing about 30 per cent to the total sales while the balance 70 per cent is coming through online orders. Chandran said consumers are increasingly getting comfortable with buying fresh meat and seafood products online. “As consumers stay at home, we are also witnessing increase in demand for ready-to-cook products. We are adding 2-3 new products every month. We are seeing traction for products such as non-vegetarian starters, instant curries and pickles. This is expected to become a significant new category in itself,” he added.

In February, the industry faced challenges due to misinformation around consumption of meat and meat products due to the pandemic. However, industry players said these challenges were short-lived and the wallet spends on the category have not witnessed a dip.

A spokesperson for Licious said, “In the last few months, our order volumes have gone up by 300 per cent. We have seen per day deliveries go up by more than 2x, with a 30 per cent increase in average order value from customers. This demand surge is witnessed across all our markets.”

Published on August 19, 2020

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