CHENNAI: Herbal, yes. Chicken, yes. But herbal chicken? Two words you probably wouldn’t have heard in tandem so far, and yet, it is here. A newly-opened chicken store in the outskirts of Chennai is selling what it claims to be chicken — fortified and augmented by a steady diet of over 48 herbs. And, sales are skyrocketing for the infant store.
The steadily growing distaste over the use of artificial enhancers in farm produce has already significantly pushed sales of organic foods in the city.
But while organic foods have been around a while, there haven’t been that many clean chicken providers in the city. The herbal tag, according to the promoters, has had an instant impact.
“It’s the herbal tag that’s seeing a number of people throng our outlet here. And there’s no reason they shouldn’t. We include a steady diet of 48 herbs in the diet of the chicken, we feed them only vegetables and don’t include any artificial components. No injections, no antibiotics. They’re clean,” said Rajesh Kannan of Saravana Mooligai Chicken.
The herbs included in the diet include tulasi, nellikai, sukku, milagu, thippili, Sirugurunjan (for diabetics). The four founders of the store also say that the greatest challenge — the concept has been under research at the Namakkal Veterinary College and Research Institute for several months now — was the substitute for the antibiotic and immunity enhancing injections. “The research showed that the sambhar onions in the feed more than took care of the immunity issues that affect poultry farming,” said Kannan. “But the method that we use also significantly increases the cost,” he added.
The rates show just how much. One kg of chicken is sold for `280 and a live bird for `230 per kg. But sales have been skyrocketing, despite the price.
“People who buy here say that a hundred rupees is okay to pay for a healthy meal. And it’s not just the middle class and the upper-middle class people who are buying. There is an auto driver, who has become a regular, over the past month,” said Kannan. The shop sells around 300 birds on a Sunday, over a 100 on Saturdays and 70-80 on Wednesdays. “We have been asked to increase volumes, but we cannot do that and maintain the quality. We’ve to disappoint a few customers,” he said.
Saravana Mooligai Chicken’s success story is not isolated. While the chicken isn’t organic in the strictest sense, the fact that it is clean of artifices is what is driving its growth. The same holds for organics. “We have seen a steady increase in sales over the last few months. It is not because of the reports of over-use of pesticides and antibiotics. The awareness is growing and people are willing to shell out that extra rupee for clean food,” said Ananthoo, a food activist and member of the Organic Farmers’ Market.
Vaer Organics’ Sriram Narayanan also says that the increasing sales can be seen in the mushrooming of stores in the city. “Just two years have seen over 400 organic stores coming into Chennai,” he added.
Saravana Mooligai Chicken is located at No.10, Mugalivakkam Main Road, Mugalivakkam, Chennai - 600125, Near Arush Supermarket. Contact: +(91)-9884043192.