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Impact Of Covid-19: Way Forward For Meat And Seafood Industry

Our investments and learnings this year will enable us to grow rapidly as an industry and can lead to lead to a drastic change in local market conditions, perceptions, myths and lead to consolidation in the industry and chart the growth path in the coming quarters.

Photo Credit : L-R: image courtesy Licious; image sourced from change.org

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Which meat source do you prefer?

In the recent times, disruption led by technology and the effect of Covid-19 has led to a significant impact on various internal and internal factors across industries which includes purchasing, selling, exports, value-added services among other key components for businesses. Government and businesses actively have scrambled to organize supply chains and address the pain points of end-consumers and let maintain fluidity in day-to-day operations to survive in the times of duress. 

Meat and seafood industry in India are grappling from rumours pertaining to Covid-19 linking it with the consumption of meat and seafood, thus creating panic among customers and have fuelled doubts to keep customers away from the meat and seafood. The resultant impact is chicken prices have crashed to 30 to 40 rupees/kg when the production cost for the farmer is 70/kg. Overall demand has come down by 70% and consumption has moved from chicken to mutton and seafood. Government, FSSAI and other regulatory bodies through their reach-out have tried to quell the rumours but the picture at hand remains grim for short-term. While this is an issue in the short term, it’s a blessing in disguise to structurally remould the industry in the long-term. 

Meat production in India has been an unorganized but a crucial cog of the Indian meat and seafood industry. Conventional production practices have flawed the image of the Indian meat industry earlier and have brought it forth in the times of the pandemic once more. In addition, the unregulated meat markets, diverse climatic conditions, lack of hygiene measures are few more hazards that have been associated with the industry. Neighbourhood butcher shops still largely control the industry and customers purchase meat from these shops, where lack of hygiene has been a cause of concern always. 

With meat and seafood exports falling drastically in the last few weeks and dip in domestic sales, the burden of full-proofing the industry against the present situation falls on the government, industry bodies and the organized retail who have made their entry in the past few years. Curbs on economic activity and rumours have allowed organized retailers to present and paint a picture different from imagined in the past. 

Organized retailers have invested heavily in the back-end processes which includes introducing hygienic techniques meat production and processing techniques for the floor level workers of the meat industry, training butchers and educating them about clean meat production practices, processing, packaging, value addition and quality assurance. 

Customers are moving away from wet markets and that’s where the growth and positive sentiment for the industry lie in. Mutton and seafood have seen an uptick in sales. Customer awareness must be leveraged through different mediums to highlight how healthy is your daily serving of meat and seafood. The industry is bringing about that change by supplying free-range, organic, responsibly raised food products.

Poultry production is one of the most profitable assets of Indian animal agriculture and millions of farmers in the country are involved at the grassroots levels to bring about the disruption in the times of Covid-19. FSSAI intends to leverage on the awareness in the country surrounding Covid-19 and enhance the consumption of meat and seafood, thus dispelling the rumours affecting the industry. The need of the hour for the community is not to believe or fear novel Covid-19 but to adopt a methodical approach.  Stopping the sale of meat and seafood would not improve the situation.  We as an industry and community are responsible to let people not panic and follow the rumours about poultry products and take all possible precautions to prevent the spread of novel Covid-19. Our investments and learnings this year will enable us to grow rapidly as an industry and can lead to lead to a drastic change in local market conditions, perceptions, myths and lead to consolidation in the industry and chart the growth path in the coming quarters.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


Nishanth Chandran

The author is Founder and CEO, Tendercuts

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