Mumbai: Even if you cannot do without your daily serving of fresh seafood, the foul smell at the neighbourhood fish market could put you off. That’s not all. Navigating puddles of dirty water to reach your fishmonger could push you further into believing that it is perhaps not worth the pain.

This may soon be a thing of the past. Encouraged by the rapid growth of e-commerce across categories in India, seafood could soon be on the e-tailers’ menu. Mumbai-based seafood marts are considering a hybrid model, through offline and online offerings, to expand their footprint to other geographies.

PescaFresh, which has been serving over 50,000 Mumbaikars for well over a decade through its retail store network, is in talks with Amazon to sell its products on the US-headquartered e-tailing major’s platform. Integrated seafood company WestCoast Group’s Cambay Tiger, which started off in Mumbai and experimented with a store in Delhi last year, is now planning to open more stores in both the cities and also expand to new cities like Pune.

“We started experimenting two years ago with a store in Bandra and now have three stores that are hugely successful," said Cambay Tiger CEO and WestCoast Group director Shivam Gupta.

PescaFresh’s journey into seafood retailing started with shop-in-shop arrangements with retail chains such as HyperCity and Aditya Birla Retail Ltd’s More. However, it had to exit those partnerships two years ago, with retailers failing to meet the stringent quality control requirements for storing and handling fresh fish.

Now, PescaFresh believes it has the wherewithal to work as a fulfilment partner for delivering fresh fish ordered on e-tailers such as Amazon. “We have over the past couple of years focused on processes and systems," said Sangram Sawant, founder and CEO PescaFresh, adding that the company will also look to set up retail outlets in Delhi and Pune.

India’s Rs2.84 trillion seafood market is estimated to grow at a compounded average rate of 8% between 2016 and 2021, according to consultancy firm Wazir Advisors.

Moreover, the market is largely unorganized with 97.5% of the seafood sold by volumes comprising unbranded produce, which is sourced from the traditional markets, said Harminder Sahni, founder and managing director, Wazir Advisors.

However, organized companies such as WestCoast’s fresh fish retail unit and PescaFresh are growing at a much faster rate. “We started farming fresh river fish about one-and-a-half years ago for our own seafood marts. This business has grown 200% year-on-year as the consumer understands the freshness," said Rahul Kulkarni, director, WestCoast Group.

Likewise for PescaFresh. The retailer has clocked 60% annual growth over the years.

India will always remain a fresh market, skipping frozen food. Advanced markets, such as the US and the UK, too, are moving back to consuming fresh, says Sawant.