Can Covid-19 convince Indian producers to invest in processing?

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The Karnataka Poultry Farmers and Breeders Association recently held a webinar to encourage their members to explore retail. They discussed ‘New Trends in Marketing and Delivery of Poultry Products’, with ‘Special reference to the current situation and post Covid era’.

They brought together poultry producers like Nandu’s Chicken and CPF’s Five Star Chicken; who have done well in the retail sector to explain to others why the time was ripe to move into value addition. This is not the first time such a webinar was organized by the KPFBA. In June they organized a similar webinar on ‘Promoting Chicken Consumption through E-marketing’.  So why the sudden interest in the chicken retail sector by Indian processors? 

The answer came from Dr Sahebrao Devrao Rathod who launched his own retail store called ‘Vet Chicken’ during the lockdown. He told his colleagues, that having worked for decades in the industry, his daughters told him not to bring chicken meat home. They told him that it was unhygienic and that they need to be careful during this time.

They are not the only ones who feel this way. The Indian Poultry industry since March this year fought hard to dispel the myth that Covid-19 spreads via poultry. But they now face an even more systematic issue. The need to venture into processing.

The virus shone a spotlight on hygiene from every quarter and people now want their food too, to meet better standards. This is a wake-up call for many in the Indian poultry industry who thought that their responsibilities ended at the farm gate. Now, if they do not take action to improve hygiene standards, people are going to look elsewhere or turn to other sources of protein.

As Mr Vasanth Kumar C Shetty, President of Poultry Farmers and Breeders Association, Maharashtra told his colleagues – “Sell a hygienic product at a reasonable cost”. He added, “Change, can add value to the bottom line.”

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