Getting to the meat of it: The challenges and growth potential of the Indian meat market
In every 50-100 km we travel in India, we witness a change in culture, language, and clothing. What binds us together though is food; we love to eat.
Indian home-cooked food refuses to fit into a set frame or definition. Every dish is made differently, and the spices become more nuanced as you cross state borders. This is a cause for celebration, and at the same time, poses a huge challenge for ecommerce companies who need to cater to these varied choices, especially in a melting pot that we call our cities.
Let’s narrow it down to non-vegetarian food for this article. Contrary to popular belief, today, over 70 percent of Indians eat meat in one form or the other.
A large growing market willing to purchase everything online provides a huge growth opportunity for an ecommerce company. Add to this is the increasing reluctance of consumers to visit or purchase from wet markets — accounting for almost 90 percent of the meat market.
Post-COVID-19 provides a huge opportunity for fresh to home delivery companies, which can match the hygiene and quality expectations of customers.
Biting into the preference pie
In India, the seafood market is an organised industry. Poultry is an equally integrated business. For both these types of meat, you will find enough resources to start a chain and work on streamlining and optimising the system.
The challenge arises when you have to add mutton (lamb and goat) to the offerings. Different breeds, which vary according to region based on climatic conditions and feed, gives a varied taste and texture to the meat.
Customers perceive each taste differently according to their own experiences, making it tough for any provider to add uniformity to the mix. Creating a brand out of such an unpredictable variable is a challenge that is yet to be solved. Opportunity perhaps?
Bleeding through inventory
One of the most difficult challenges to address in the business is inventory management. The umpteen SKUs that need to be kept available is a tricky balance to achieve.
Every provider struggles with optimising customer satisfaction while mitigating losses due to inventory management. It can quickly spell the death knell on a lot of businesses if this is not done right.
Here is where data processing, AI, customer surveys, and data analytics that match demand in each region against the choice of meat, volume, and cuts wins hands down.
Cooking with the traditional vibe
The COVID-19 situation has cut off some people from their homes, and others have been brought closer to their family members. This has led to a huge nostalgic longing for all things simple (read: hygenic) and traditional (read: safer).
The customisation requirements, according to cultural preferences, for example, turmeric wash, is a very real ask. There also lies the challenge of customising a meat wash according to the traditional practices of every community in India.
Stirring the pot over regulations
Over the past couple of years, the regulations in the Indian food industry have changed for the better, along with the FSSAI norms. Every home business, chef, or cook has to now register, adhere to guidelines, and be certified without which, it will attract penalties.
This implies no more garage startups, especially in the meat industry, resulting in cleaner and healthier food for all customers.
Despite the hue and cry, things have changed for the better. Superior equipment, hygiene standards, and quality control are a given. The opportunity for industry consultants, which aid startups set up a business, is huge at this juncture.
The meat of the matter is price sensitivity
Price versus cut versus quality versus processing method is another strong discerning point for a price-sensitive market like India. You will often find loyalty switches based on price or offer of the day for a large part of the floating crowd.
While stationary vendors attract loyalty based on their processing method, for ecommerce players, the war is fought on the processing method, quality, and price. The trifecta must be managed every single day for the needle to inch forward on the profit graph.
Adding meat to blockchain
To inspire consumer loyalty and confidence, brands must inevitability work on backward integration with farms to conform to the quality and consistency the consumer demands.
Blockchain can be implemented to provide the consumer with transparency and traceability. The consumer can get information on the batch the meat belonged to, when was it purchased, and from where it was purchased.
Every challenge is disguised as an opportunity in the making. An entrepreneur’s perspective will determine which is which and how they choose to truly bring alive the fresh to home concept in the meat industry.
Edited by Suman Singh
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)