As pandemic continues, frozen food sales boomPeople thought it wiser to stock up on refrigerated products and avoid crowded marketplaces, merchants said.
Sales of frozen foods skyrocketed after the lockdown as housebound valley residents went for items that could be stored for long periods, and now they seem to have become hooked on them, said traders.
According to retailers, sales of frozen foods like meat and fish swelled by more than 40 percent after the government issued stay-home orders in March to contain the spread of coronavirus infections.
Sabindra Byanjankar, sales manager at Bhat Bhateni Super Market, said that demand for frozen foods has soared compared to pre-lockdown days. “Frozen food sales have doubled in recent months, and during weekends and festivals, sales rise threefold,” Byanjankar told the Post.
The major reason for the increase in demand for frozen food is that people now prefer to cook special dishes at home instead of going out to restaurants and hotels, he said. “With the winter season upon us, demand for frozen momos and meat items has risen compared to before.”
Chet Narayan Poudel, chief operating officer at SalesBerry, said the consumption of frozen foods increased by 35-40 percent after the coronavirus. “As the markets were closed during the lockdown, people's options were limited and they started buying frozen food items for reasons of quality and hygiene,” he said.
After people purchased frozen foods, they liked them so much they wanted to have them more often, he said. Sales of frozen foods also jumped sharply during Dashain this year, he added.
Frozen food manufacturers and suppliers said that demand from their biggest customers, the restaurants, had declined steeply while retail sales rose by 15 to 20 percent after the virus.
Frozen French fries and varieties of potato fries, sweet corn, momo, fish, prawn and other seafood, and meat items are popular among customers, said retailers.
Raj Kumar Ghimire, owner of Pacific Frozen Food, supplier and manufacturer, said that demand from restaurants had been increasing steadily until the lockdown forced them to close. “But frozen foods are becoming very popular among retail buyers,” Ghimire said.
Instead of going shopping daily for fresh vegetables and meats with the pandemic raging relentlessly, people thought it wiser to stock up on refrigerated foods and avoid crowded marketplaces, merchants said.
Also, keeping food frozen for a long time kills germs, so it's hygienic and that has increased the popularity of frozen food products, he said. Ghimire's company makes frozen food items such as vegetables and meats.
Sujan Pradhan, owner of Saathi ko Pasal, says he has been supplying frozen food products to hotels, restaurants and supermarkets. Orders from hotels and restaurants have gone down, but supermarkets are ordering more, he said.
Pradhan opened his shop at Jhochhen three years ago. He said that there was good demand for frozen foods before Covid-19, but after the pandemic, sales took off with people fearing to go to vegetable markets and cold stores.
With restaurants and hotels closed, people started ordering frozen foods like French fries, momos and sausages besides vegetables and meat items. Retail consumption surged after the pandemic. Imported frozen foods cost more than local products, he said.
Demand for frozen foods used to increase during festivals like Dashain and Tihar; but after Covid-19, there has been a sales boom, Pradhan said. Daily sales now come to around Rs25,000 while the turnover was around Rs15,000 before the pandemic, he added.