In the past few weeks, with the entire country on lockout and most people working from home, ready-to-cook and frozen-food items have been flying off shelves.For example, online grocery delivery service Grofers saw its sales increase 170% in the ready-to-eat category, 31% in the ready-made meals and mixes category, and 41% in the frozen food category, its founder Saurabh Kumar said.
MTR Foods, a business that produces packaged foods, has also seen demand for its breakfast mixes, dessert mixes and ready-to-eat meals rise over the era by more than 20 per cent. Sunay Bhasin, its CMO, also said that demand for items like vermicelli has seen a 15 percent rise.
Frozen food and ready-to-cook meals come packaged and require little effort or time to prepare. Plus, they can be kept at home for a certain amount of time. Frozen food products such as parathas need to be heated until they are ready for consumption, while noodles and pasta varieties at most need boiling in water to make them palatable.
“Most students and bachelors are stuck in PGs and have little access to a large kitchen to cook meals. As this food is easy to prepare and can only require a hot water kettle, we are seeing a surge, “said Varsha Jeetendraa, founder of Express Feast, a start-up that produces ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook foods such as poha, upma and biryani. She added that since the shutdown, the company has seen a 200 percent increase in sales, particularly for its instant rasams and breakfast combo packs (which usually serve a full week breakfast for one person).
“Many of our customers were previously travelers. But we see now that the demand has also penetrated into daily households. Since most cooks and maids were unable to turn up for work, we see daily households making those purchases as well, “Jeetendraa said.
Ashish Kumar, founder of Near. Store, an e-commerce plug-and-play platform for offline stores, said he’s seen a 3x jump for frozen foods like parathas in the last 4-5 weeks, and a 5x jump in sales for food items like Maggi and pasta in the last three weeks.
Near. Store’s Kumar said people will be wary of buying food from kitchens and food-tech companies for some time because of the human intervention involved at every point, from cooking the food to delivering it. “There will be a lot of competition for frozen food and packaged food in the post-Covid scenario” he said.
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Food Techno-Manager in making, NIFTEN’22