Indian meat and seafood industry have become a vital cog for the Indian economy. According to a sample registration system (SRS) baseline survey 2014 released by the Registrar General of India, 71% of Indians over the age of 15 are non-vegetarians and the demand for meat and seafood is going to witness a steady increase in the future. Rising disposable incomes and growing awareness of the nutrition value of meat and seafood products have contributed to the rise in demand from urban as well as semi-urban and rural customers.
The meat and seafood business have become a lucrative venture for startups and have witnessed a lot of players venture in the meat and seafood retail segment as well as following business models varying from omni-channel, phygital among others. The new generation of startups look to address the common issues faced by the customers while visiting butcher shops.
Neighbourhood butcher shops are marred by foul stench, unclean surroundings and revolting sight of the way meat was handled which made it unfit for human consumption and there were no proper checks in place to trace the source of animals. The meat sold at these shops was adulterated, consisting of anti-biotic residue, low on taste and didn’t meet the standard guidelines laid by the regulatory bodies.
From this, the idea to revolutionize how meat and seafood is sold the customers has been driven by the vision to redefine meat retailing in the country by delivering the best quality meat and meat products with the highest level of customer service within a hygienic and appropriate shopping environment.
Meat retail and online stores have adopted ‘farm to fork’ model under which stock is procured directly from the farmers. Numerous checks and stringent processeshave been employed right from sourcing the meat to pre-cleaning, processing and maintaining freshness of the produce. Other quality measures include cold chain technology for freshness, rigorous processes of preparation, packaging, and storage to ensure quality and hygienic products have changed the way meat and seafood is sold in India. Adherence to HACCP, HALAL, FSSAI and ISO certification among others havebrought forth the fact that, the meat and seafood sold complies to all the necessary norms and is chemical and pesticide-free which further strengthens the credibility and addresses the common concerns of the customers.
The growth potential for meat and seafood sellers lie in the fact to find the right infrastructure which could cater to a larger audience and integrate logistics and other necessary requirements for a hygienic and clean meat and seafood retail experience. Meat and seafood sellersmust ensure that a fine balance is struck between the supply chain and distribution, procurement of cold chain technology ably backed by other necessary technological innovations can let the retailers meet the quality standards required for the products.
The industry has the potential to open avenues of socio-economic development where it can create more employment avenues in rural as well as urban areas. Consumer behaviour will remain a key driver for retailers, to thaw out the chinks and remain committed to quality and price, the two key needs of the customers. Convenience, speed and customer loyalty programs are the other half of the success story for meat and seafood industry. Technology has enabled services like time-sensitive deliveries in controlled environments, click and collect, doorstep deliveries and will further allow companies to expand their horizon and bring forth for the customers the convenience of ordering, thereby driving average purchases sizes for the companies.
The industry has the right mix to step out of metropolitan cities, and look at expanding into Tier-2, 3 cities. Though there are obstacles to address to scale but consumption in rural areas as well as smaller cities is now being strongly driven by combining online as well as the retail experience. Companies need to address the scepticism and take the organized retail experience of meat and poultry to tap into the minds of the customers where factors like timely deliveries and familiarity with the neighbourhood butcher shops are still a comfort zone. Along with it, the myth of price parity must be addressed which can further lay foundation for building a strong network of meat and seafood retail. Meat and seafood industry have the potential to become a much more valued contributor across value chains, thus giving the sector much needed impetus and making it a more viable option in the future.