Over the past 30 years, Indians fondness for non-vegetarian food has surged like never before. Thanks to an increased international exposure, food, culinary and travel shows on Tv and Social Media and of course, hundreds of gourmet kitchens coming up all over the country, Indian consumers have not only lapped up international “meaty” cuisines at restaurants but have also become experimental with what they cook and consume at home. but, there was one big challenge. the quality of the meat, poultry and fish which was bought from the wet markets were susceptive. not only was it unknown from where the meat was procured, but also the marinations and storage conditions were beyond apathy. It was for this reason, many people preferred to eat at restaurants, unmindful of higher cost of the food on plate rather than risk their own and their families’ lives of infections such as SARS, Bird-flu among other.
2015, enter Licious.
A few friends gathered together to discuss their terrible experiences of buying meat all the way from procurement to bringing to the homes, without the accompanied mess. Within a few months, they had set-up an App and Website based model, planning a farm to fork (literally) strategy which came to become a household name within a short period of time in the start-up’s home base of Bangalore. That the city boasted of a multi-cultural society, including citizens from almost all the states of India as well as a huge Expatriate population from various countries around the globe, helped them grow faster. The company had revenues of Rs. 1,000 Crores in FY 20-21 which was a 5 times jump, thanks to the Covid-19 lockdowns due to which people preferred to stay put at home, especially to buy meat, among other things. That someone would deliver high quality, certified meat, in a neat and organised packaging, with a planned schedule at affordable prices – and all this with the click of a button on an App was a no brainer. The company raised USD 52 million recently being valued at over 1 billion US dollars, attaining the coveted Unicorn status. No mean feat this is.
Food and Grocery, Fruits and Vegetables and Meat are among the most difficult categories to operate within the USD 850 Bn Retail Industry in India, of which only 12% is within the organised realm. E-commerce, which is yet another delivery channel (and not really an industry) currently accounts for USD 35-40 Billion pa though this is calculated at a GMV – Gross Merchandise Value – level and it also includes resellers, shopkeepers and small offices who buy online for convenience and discounts. The split of B2B vs. B2C in the Indian e-commerce story is not fully known, though players like Big Basket (another Unicorn) have recorded no more than USD 1 Bn in sales (which could also include their b2B business) as compared to Reliance Fresh which had an estimated turnover of USD 4 Bn with over 700 stores across 90 Indian cities and towns. The larger chunk of the e-commerce business in India is dominated by categories such as Electronics, mobile phones, brown goods including home appliances and accessories, due to their average ticket sizes.
Not to take away the shining example that Licious has created in a largely fragmented market in India, the start-up has raised to date over USD 330 million or Rs. 2,400 crores and has built a formidable (and an enviable) model for others to explore, emulate and expand the business even as it competes within the space with the likes of ZappFresh, Fipola, Fresh to Home among others in the largely unorganised, meat retail segment. We believe this market has just woken up, with a USD 40 Billion consumption opportunity pa!