With the whole country on lockdown and most people working from home, ready-to-cook and frozen-food products have been flying off the shelves over the past few weeks.

Online grocery delivery service Grofers, for instance, has seen its sales surge 170 per cent in the ready-to-eat category, 31 per cent in the ready-made meals and mixes category, and 41 per cent in the frozen food category, said its founder Saurabh Kumar .

MTR Foods, a company that manufactures packaged foods, has also seen the demand for its breakfast mixes, dessert mixes and ready-to-eat meals increase by over 20 per cent during the period. Sunay Bhasin, its CMO, said the demand for products such as vermicelli have also seen a surge of 15 per cent.

Convenient options

Frozen food and ready-to-cook meals come in a packed form and do not require much effort or time to cook. Plus, they can be stored for a certain period of time at home. Frozen food items such as parathas only need to be heated before they are ready to be consumed, while noodles and pasta varieties, at the most, require to be boiled in water to be made palatable.

“Many bachelors and students are stranded in PGs and do not have access to a big kitchen to prepare meals. Since this food is simple to prepare and only may require a hot water kettle, we’re seeing a surge,” said Varsha Jeetendraa, founder of Express Feast, a start-up that manufactures ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook food such as poha , upma and biryani . The company has seen a 200 per cent increase in sales since the lockdown, specifically for its instant rasams and breakfast combo packs (which typically serves an entire week’s breakfast for one person), she added.

“Earlier, a majority of our consumers were travellers. But now we see that market has seeped into regular households as well. Since most cooks and maids have been unable to turn up for work, we see regular households also making these purchases,” Jeetendraa said.

Virus effect

Ashish Kumar, founder of Near.Store, a plug-and-play e-commerce platform for offline stores, said he has been seeing a 3x jump for frozen food such as parathas in the last 4-5 weeks, and a 5x jump in sales in the last three weeks for food items such as Maggi and pasta.

“Typically, the largest consumers of these products are children, and right now there’s no school, so there’s a lot of demand for Maggi and pasta,” said Kumar.

The coronavirus being on the prowl is also another reason these food products are picking up momentum. Restaurants are closed and the public is still skeptical of ordering food in, fearing the spread of the virus.

Near.Store’s Kumar said that, for a while, people are going to be wary of buying food from kitchens and food-tech companies because of the human intervention involved at every point, from the cooking of the food to its delivery. “In the post-Covid scenario, there would be a lot of demand for frozen food and packed food,” he added.