Here's why COVID-19 has skyrocketed the sales of 'marinated meats' 

Sonali Shenoy Published :  18th June 2020 02:33 PM   |   Published :   |  18th June 2020 02:33 PM

Tangri kebab, ready to fry!

Last week I had Chicken Tikka on Wednesday, Asian Chicken Satay on Friday and Barbeque Wings on Sunday. You’re probably thinking it’s because I am one heck of a chef. But the truth is — I took a short cut. Like popular parenting blogger Moina Memon, my ‘lockdown discovery’ has of late been marinated meats. Moina who has a seven and a three-year-old to keep up with tells us, “I buy marinated meats at least once a week. They’re quick, convenient and hygienic.” Although, she does make it a point to add, “I always consume it on the same day — just to be safe.” And with another lockdown upon us, now seems like a great time to stock up.

Sauté & toss
Meat retailers like Fipola and TenderCuts tell us that the COVID-19 pandemic has been a big reason why this trend is catching fire. Pre-lockdown, ready-to-cook usually meant bingeing on sausages and salami. But today with people more health-conscious, customers are seeking out ‘fresh meats’ that are preservative-free and take 15 minutes or less to plate up. So it’s no wonder that a once lean section of sales — marinated meats — has over the past couple of months, skyrocketed into a prime earner. “Our marinated line of products has tripled in sales since the first lockdown, so much so that we are even planning to expand our range,” says CEO of Fipola, Sushil Kanugolu.

Look out for six new marinades like Chicken Ghee Roast, Mutton Chukka, Goan Seer Fish Fry, and Masala Mackerel, that will be added to their existing range of 10 (INR 125 to INR 250) by the end of June. Understandably, this trend is seen particularly in upmarket neighborhoods that can afford this convenience “like Adyar, Alwarpet, and Kotturpuram, as well as IT hubs like ECR and OMR,” Sushil 
points out.

Made at home
Even independent home cooks  seem to be tapping into the marinade trend. Minal Kriplani who previously focused on salads with her brand Lean On Me, noticed much to her surprise that her three or four marinated meats (INR 650 for half a kilo) and paneer (INR 550) for vegetarians almost doubled in order numbers post-lockdown. “I went from selling 40 marinated kits a week to 75,” she shares, as part of a separate vertical Jar Code. Since then, the menu has expanded to 12 marinated products including  Moroccan Chicken, Mexican Fajitas and Cajun Spice, alongside dips and dressings.

Hot wings & frozen things 
Nandu’s Chicken, a Bengaluru-based poultry retailer has seen a surge of about 200 percent in their RTC/RTE (Ready to Cook/Ready to Eat) category. However, instead of frankfurters topping the 
list, founder and CEO Narendra Pasuparthy tells us, “Marinated options like Chicken 65 and Butter Chicken Masala have been getting a lot of traction.” Other players like Suguna and Sumeru (frozen foods) also reveal similar findings with the purchase patterns of their customers. With hot sellers like Hot Wings and Marinated Malabar Chicken, Suguna’s GM Consumer Products, D A Rafi Baig says, “We have seen a growth of 10 to 12 percent in our RTC/RTF segment in the last month.” While Sumeru, in fact, serves up entire frozen meals — ranging from rolls and wraps to pasta and curries. “We follow IQF freezing technology which ensures food stays fresh for a longer time and is contact-free as a process in itself,” says Mithun Appaiah, CEO of Sumeru. With seafood being difficult to come by during the lockdown, he shares, “We have seen an incremental off-take from stores in our prawns, fish, and in the 
veggies range.”
Of course, there are still those who prefer the longer, but tried and tested old school route. “The thought of someone else’s hands rubbing masala on my meat — it’s a mental image I would rather not have in my head,” says fashion stylist Prajanya Anand, with a laugh. Hear ye, hear ye. Thank god for gloves!