BENGALURU: Mohammed Khuram has been running a meat store in CV Raman Nagar for over a decade. While he was catering to scores of customers prior to the pandemic, that has now changed, with a 50 per cent reduction in number of customers. “People are scared to visit physical outlets,” says Khuram, who makes just enough to get by. Other store owners in the vicinity expressed similar concerns despite them taking necessary safety measures. While the ongoing pandemic has brought about a dip in business for traditional meat stores, online ones report the opposite trend.
Shan Kadavil, CEO of Fresh To Home – which supplies poultry, mutton, fish – believes the pandemic accelerated online purchase of meat. The company is based in 10 cities across India and UAE. Before COVID, they received a million orders per month, which has now doubled. “Roughly, 40 per cent of these orders are from Bengaluru. The traffic on our website has grown by four times and we are not able to fulfil their needs due to lockdown measures at times,” says Kadavil. Vinay Gopinath, COO of Nandu’s Chicken also reports a rise in demand.
Among their four channels of order generation – physical outlets, online/mobile app, delivery apps, call centre facility – it’s the online and delivery channels that shot up in demand. “We saw a 40 per cent fall in demand during February and March due to the fears of the virus being spread through meat and wet markets. "April saw a resurgence of 40 per cent in our online channels but walk-ins in our 14 outlets -- 43 in Bengaluru -- had reduced which were operational during the lockdown," Gopinath says.
Among their customers is a resident of Indiranagar who now buys meat online for its doorstep delivery. “The physical outlets of brands follow appropriate hygiene measures –gloves, head covers etc,” she says. All hope, however, is not lost for traditional butchers. Vinyas Purushotam, an engineering student, procures meat through a traditional butcher in Basaveshwaranagar, because his outlet meets their hygiene standards and provides doorstep delivery. “If this butcher wasn’t catering then I would have resorted to Licious, Nandus or Fresh To Home.
They consistently maintain hygiene norms,” says Purushotam, who claims other local standalone outlets dump their waste in open spaces. “This has resulted in kites swarming over it in my vicinity and they have grown quite aggressive,” he adds. Some like Asmita Upadhyay have gone back to traditional butchers. “I have stopped buying from Licious. Firstly because of the price difference and secondly because it’s not transparent whether the meat/chicken is freshly cut. At a traditional butcher, I can choose whether or not to purchase depending on what I see,” says the designer.