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BENGALURU: Online meat startup Licious is planning an overseas launch while also looking at setting up offline stores in India to expand its customer base and generate additional revenue streams.

The pandemic-led disruption last year gave a huge boost to online meat buying, prompting the Bengaluru-based startup to go beyond metros and start operations in smaller cities this year.

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The six-year-old firm has in many ways led the transformation of buying fresh meat and fish online in a sector that is fragmented, with over 90% of the market unorganised and unbranded.

As part of its overseas expansion strategy, Licious is exploring entry in southeast Asian markets.

“There are many companies in frozen meat but to solve demand for fresh meat is unique to Licious. We have the aspiration to take the business outside the country. Even from a global standpoint, it is relevant that we know how to crack a fresh meat supply chain till the customers’ doorstep. That proposition is true wherever we operate because of the supply chain, back-end operations, inventory management of perishable SKU (stock keeping unit) and the 24-hour farm-to-fork supply chain we have built around fresh meat," co-founder Vivek Gupta said in an interview.

Gupta said the overseas foray which has been in the works since last year was delayed because of travel restrictions.

The online meat market has grown 2.5-3 times since the pandemic hit last year, with a large growth runway ahead, management consultancy Redseer said in a recent note.

“The broader meat market has been largely unorganized but online is growing fast. Success of online meat providers is due to vertically integrated supply chains with high bars on quality. Also, the players have innovated to provide consumers a wide set of offerings, and attracted them through highly relevant and contextual marketing," Redseer said.

Licious, which does about a million deliveries a month, also plans to set up small-format, physical stores, starting with Bengaluru and Delhi-National Capital Region later this year.

“Offline will play a strategic role for us because we want to be omni-present as a brand. We are not looking at offline at necessarily being a channel to generate revenue. The reason why Licious would be present offline is to migrate consumers from their existing or traditional choices to a better option," said co-founder Abhay Hanjura.

Licious also sells spreads and ready-to-cook kebabs, which are sold also through modern stores and large supermarkets. Its spreads are sold through 600 offline store distribution network and sells about 10,000 bottles a day.

Licious has added five new cities - Coimbatore, Cochin, Vijaywada, Vizag, Jaipur- in the last three months and operates in 12 cities now. It plans to reach 20 cities over the next 18 months, Gupta said, including Kolkata and smaller towns in eastern India as well as more cities in the south.

“Among smaller cities, we have seen good success in Coimbatore and Cochin. These cities are responding the same way in which a city like Pune has responded. The focus will be on bigger cities and we believe that maximum growth will come from the top 10 cities but smaller cities will also be part of our growth strategy," he added.

Other than Licious, meat delivery platforms such as Meatigo, FreshtoHome, ZappFresh have also been rapidly expanding business.

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