Frozen food companies are finding it hard to supply enough products to meet the rising demand
- Different supermarkets and grocery stores have reported surge in the demand for frozen foods
- Parata, chicken samosa, puri, chicken spring roll, singara, chicken sausage, chicken nuggets, and french fries are among the favorites
- The demand for these items has almost doubled from what it was in normal times
The Covid-19 pandemic has forced most hotels, restaurants and local food shops in the city to close down. Though some have reopened since the government relaxed the lockdown policy, they have not had many customers due to public awareness about the virus.
However, Covid-19 has not prevented people from eating their favourite snacks like singara, samosa, puri, etc. Specifically, middle-class people have found their alternative way to have those items as frozen foods or ready-to-cook foods.
This new indoor food habit of people amid the Covid-19-induced period of staying home has fueled growth in the frozen food business.
Different supermarkets and grocery stores in the capital have reported a surge in the demand for frozen foods especially: parata, chicken samosa, puri, chicken spring roll, singara, chicken sausage, chicken nuggets, and french fries.
They said the demand for these items has almost doubled since normal times. Frozen food companies are finding it hard to supply enough products to meet the rising demand.
According to the frozen food companies, people have become dependent on ready-to-cook foods as the Covid-19 pandemic forced restaurants and local food shops to shut down. They said many households are not employing domestic workers for safety reasons and are relying on frozen food as it is easy to prepare.
The companies said many small frozen food producers have shut their business due to the pandemic, so the pressure on the large producers has increased. Currently, the supply is lower than demand on the market.
According to super shop Meena Bazar, the sales of frozen food have increased 25-29 percent amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The most demanded items are singaras and samosas.
"There has been a good demand for frozen food amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The sales have increased because most hotels and restaurants are closed," said Shahin Khan, CEO of Meena Bazar.
The Mahanagar Project outlet of super shop Shwapno in the capital saw many customers buying frozen foods. A customer named Shirin Afroze was buying chicken nuggets, samosa and alu-puri.
"It takes time if you want to prepare these items at home and the restaurants are closed. The children like them, that's why I am buying these," said Shirin.
Khairul Islam, a salesman of Nabil Store in the West Rajabazar area of the city, told The Business Standard, "Earlier we ordered frozen food from the companies around two times a month. The same amount of frozen food is now being sold in three to four days. The companies are not able to meet the growing demand."
Golden Harvest is the largest producer of frozen food in the country. The company shares around 22 percent of the total market. Officials of the company said the demand for processed foods has almost doubled in recent times. They are failing to provide enough supply of products to meet the demand.
Md Shahidullah, general manager (marketing) of Golden Harvest, said, "We are not able to produce enough products according to the demand because the demand has increased suddenly because of the Covid-19 pandemic."
"Many small companies are not operational any more. Many companies supplied homemade products during the pre-[novel] coronavirus time, but they are not operating now because of supply chain problems," he added.
Pran-RFL has a separate frozen food brand named Jhotpot. Kamruzzan Kamal, director of the marketing department of the company, said sales of frozen foods have increased 50-60 percent.
"Few people go to hotels, restaurants or local food shops due to the [novel] coronavirus. Many are not employing domestic workers because of safety issues. That's why the demand for frozen foods has increased," said Kamruzzaman.
Many companies including Golden Harvest, Kazi Farm, Pran, CP, Euro Food, Lamisa produce frozen food in the country.
According to research by LightCastle, a research organisation, the market for frozen food was worth Tk268 million in 2015. Currently, the size of the market is around Tk500 crore.
However, there are no specific statistics on the market from the government or any non-governmental institution, said the officials of different companies.
Though the market is experiencing a surge in demand amid the Covid-19 pandemic, officials said the market is not growing as much on the local market.
Mohammad Abulaish Fakir, general manager of Euro Food, said, "The frozen food market at the local level is growing very slowly. The growth is not more than five percent. We need many studies on this."