Dependence on frozen food rising in pandemic
Sector stakeholders say coronavirus has been a boon for businesses in the sector
The frozen food business is booming at a time when many sectors are struggling to survive the Covid shocks.
Businesspeople in the sector say the frozen food market has more than doubled since the coronavirus outbreak in the country around one and a half years ago.
Sector stakeholders say the coronavirus has been a boon for the industry.
In around 18 months, people's habits have changed a good deal due to various reasons, among which are limited movements of people, restrictions on hotels and restaurants and work done from home.
In such circumstances, people have become more dependent on processed food.
Evidence that people have increased their consumption of frozen food can be found in the sales growth statistics of the manufacturing companies.
Pran RFL's frozen food brand is known as "Instant". The company's sales registered a 50-60% growth in 2020 and 30-35% this year. Golden Harvest says product sales have doubled in the pandemic and are still growing.
Kamruzzaman Kamal, director marketing at Pran-RFL Group, told The Business Standard that people, who were less likely to go to hotels, restaurants and small food shops in the neighbourhood in the pandemic, were showing interest in frozen food.
Exports have gained momentum too, he said. The growth in exports is about 50%.
People working in the sector said the demand for parathas and vegetable snacks was high outside the country.
The products are now exported to several countries, such as America, Australia, Canada, Britain, New Zealand and Singapore.
Paratha is one of the most sought-after items among frozen foods. The demand for nuggets, chicken samosas, chicken spring rolls, chicken sausages, chicken nuggets and French fries is also high.
Most small and large food shops are closed due to the pandemic. And the ones that are open in the alleys and lanes are also selling less due to public awareness about infections. Frozen food items are replacing the fried items that common people, especially from the middle class, used to consume from such shops.
Regarding the increase in paratha sales, the people concerned said customers who had visited restaurants or bought parathas regularly from there, were now taking processed parathas at home.
Staffers at super shops Meena Bazar and Shwapno said sales of frozen food at the super shops had increased by at least 25%.
Md Shahidullah, former general manager (Marketing) of Golden Harvest, told TBS, "Companies are struggling to increase production to keep up with the demand."
Sector officials said that currently 19 companies were producing and marketing frozen foods in the country. Among the front row producers are Golden Harvest, Kazi Farm, Pran, CP, Euro Food, Lamisa and Igloo.
The frozen food market had grown in single digits every year but the coronavirus took it to double digits.
But as there has been no research in this regard in recent times, no one in the sector has been able to tell the exact growth rate.
But they say the market has more than doubled in the last two years to around Tk600 crore.