Retailing fish and seafood is a very difficult business compared to retailing meat: Dippankar Halder, Jalongi

Organized fish and seafood retail in India is in its infancy; with over 95% of the business being attributed to the unorganized wet markets established in the various quarters of India.

The Indian urban fish and seafood market size is expected to reach INR 1950 billion by 2027 from the current INR 650 billion at a CAGR of 18%. Many organized retail players are now trying to find their place in the fish and seafood sector to complement their existing chicken and meat categories.

On the other hand, Jalongi, a startup that mainly focuses on the fish and seafood category, is building a strong supply chain network to bring a “variety of fish and seafood specialties from quality” from various Indian states.

Dippankar Halder, Founder of Jalongi and retail veteran, informs that “we are focused on building supply capacity to ensure range and quality, in terms of taste and freshness, and all our efforts are aimed at constantly reducing the time between plug and consumers”.

Why Fish-on-Demand as a startup?

If you compare, the fish and seafood sector today is at the same point as the milk supply chain was before the era of Dr. Varghese Kurien. It faces similar challenges such as fragmented sources, lack of collection and aggregation mechanism and an organized cold chain between supply and demand markets.

India has a large population of fish consumers, but most of us are restricted to local produce due to the limited supply capacities of local wet market traders. Perishability without a cold chain means that many items do not have access to demand markets. Multiple layers of intermediaries add handling, waste and cost.

There is a tremendous opportunity to unlock value by building a national supply chain network at scale and that is Jalongi’s goal. We believe the value released will help farmers and fishers as well as the end consumer. It provides consumers with range and quality products at better prices and also ensures regular activity and a stable income for fish farmers and fishermen.

Through my previous experience of successfully establishing the first organized fish and seafood chain in Mumbai, I understood the consumer demands and business challenges to convert my vision into a multi-city business.

How do you differentiate your business from other meat retailers?

The retail sale of fish and seafood is a complex business compared to the retail sale of meat. Most chicken and meat retailers have one commodity, while a company like ours offers over 100 varieties to meet consumer demands. 80% of our products are sourced directly, guaranteeing impeccable quality and freshness on a daily basis.

Also, in comparison, poultry, which has the largest share of the meat segment, has had a much more organized supply base for decades with prominent players like Godrej, Venkys, Suguna, and Zorabian Chicken, among others.

Our sourcing spans coast to coast and we had to build our own supply chain network to facilitate faster delivery of products, in the absence of existing options.

We have built a strong supply chain network that helps us source directly from over 8 states now. We are adding 8 more states in the next 3-6 months.

What has been the demand for your business?

We have fulfilled over 500,000 orders to date, with over 75% of our orders coming from repeat customers. We are favored primarily for our variety of over 100 top quality products, with each order custom cut, clean and washed ready to use. In terms of annual growth, we have witnessed a 3x growth during the pandemic and we continue to grow. Demand is not an issue in this industry, it is a matter of supply and supply chain management.

We are happy with the building blocks we have been able to put in place to achieve our business goal of building an INR 1000 crore business by 2027 profitably.

Is your brand design completely business-related?

Our branding materials were designed by Arani Halder; a New York-based visual designer and illustrator whose goal was to create a fresh, trustworthy and reliable brand identity, just like the service and product we deliver.

The illustrations are meant to be relevant to a wide audience and attempt to convey the brand message of delivering fresh fish to the comfort of your own home.

The logo was designed to be minimal but recognizable. It is meant to encapsulate the fresh and modern nature of the brand without taking away from the product visuals.

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