Making Fresh Fish a Part of Daily Menu

Kochi: Malayalis consume on an average 24 kg of seafood a year. 80 per cent of Malayalis eat seafood. At roughly Rs. 200 per kg, the market size of seafood in Kerala alone would be a whopping Rs. 12,000 crore. This is exactly why Alex K Thomas and Baby Marine Ventures (BMV) are bullish about ‘Daily Fish.’

‘‘Even 1 per cent makes big business sense,’’ says the managing director of the retail arm of one of the world’s leading producers of seafood. BMV is currently the largest producer of frozen head-on shrimps in India and processes a wide range of products comprising shrimps, squids, cuttlefish, crabs and value-added seafood.

BMV, established in 1969, entered the exports industry in 1977 and used to sell to intermediaries engaged in reprocessing the seafood before exporting it to large retail chains. But today, BMV directly exports to international retail chains like Carrefour and Metro Cash & Carry. ‘‘Adherence to consistent quality, compliance with international food safety norms and commitment to social responsibility have got us here,’’ says Alex. “There are numerous international and national-level audits, and even unannounced food safety audits by clients and third parties like FDA, FSSAI, BRC Food, IFS Food and European Commission before such status is granted.’’

Alex, a medical school dropout, has been in the family business since 1996. For five years he managed the Tuticorin factory of BMV till it was sold to Phillips Foods Inc., the world’s largest crab meat producer. As part of the transaction, Alex was invited to become their managing director in India. What began as a two-year stint lasted for 11 years! In 2011, Alex relocated to Kochi, re-joined the family business now being run by the second generation comprising his brothers and cousins, and kick-started their retail foray, Daily Fish.

‘‘The big question was should we sell via brick and mortar stores or go for home delivery enabled by app,’’ says Alex. “We did not get into brick and mortar by design. Ours is a frozen product, once purchased, it has to be taken home immediately and kept in refrigerator. Any delay will impact quality first and food safety later. At Daily Fish we had to ensure that there was no compromise on quality which means there was no interruption of the cold chain. That’s why we became India’s first deep sea-to-doorstep cold chain company. We chose e-commerce route to complete the cold chain.’’

BMV’s 40-year legacy, world-class infrastructure and in-depth knowledge of seafood processing industry came in handy in realising the Daily Fish dream. The company has strategically located its factories on the east and west coasts of the country to ensure processing at source at the shortest possible time. Once the boats reach the land, in less than 25 minutes the catch reaches BMV factories and is frozen. BMV has the purest ice produced at its own factories which is used by the fishermen while at sea to keep the catch fresh and refrigerator trucks to move the fish to the factories as soon as they land. Factories have been established at major fish-landing areas like Mandapam, near Rameswaram, famous for flower shrimps, Kozhikode and Malpe/Udupi in Mangalore. Thoppumpady in Kochi also has a factory which is family-run. These factories have imported high quality commercial freezers that ensure efficient freezing. The fish is cut, cleaned, high quality vacuum-packed with no preservatives and no added chemicals, and delivered to doorstep.

Daily Fish, which was available only in Kochi, was recently launched in Thiruvananthapuram. There are four delivery hubs – Thammanam, Thoppumpady and Kakkanad in Kochi and Ulloor in Thiruvananthapuram – to ensure that delivery is on time and on the same day. Three convenient order slots exist, namely 10 am to 12.30 pm, 2 to 4.30 pm and 6 to 8.30 pm when customers can place orders online on the secured site or through the call centre (8 am to 8 pm).

Easy payment options like Cash on Delivery, Card on Delivery, Sodexo coupons, Paytm, Credit /Debit Card are available. Daily Fish was formed in March 2015 and the brand was launched in Kochi in February 2016. Currently, there are over 18,000 customers in Kochi alone and 14,000 app downloads. 350-plus deliveries are made in Kochi every day. Thiruvananthapuram, where Daily Fish was launched only recently, is warming up fast.

Daily Fish has set a revenue target of Rs. 25 crore for FY 2016-17 and the quarterly figures are already exceeding targets. The number of customers will cross 50,000 by the end of the current financial year. The value per order is Rs. 400. Over a period of time the order value is likely to go up. The reassuring part, according to company sources, is that more than 60 per cent is repeat orders from satisfied customers who mostly fall within the age group of 35 to 45 years.

Daily Fish will enter Bengaluru market by September end followed by Coimbatore in November and Chennai in December 2016.