A month back, the answer would have been : hell, it doesnt’ matter. GO ahead.
This is a HUGE unorganized market. India ranks 5th in meat production and accounts for 3% of total meat production. The meat export from India is valued at ~$1200mn and this industry largely is unorganized (and the demand is rising in multiples every year).
But then, the recent incidents in UP, beef ban in Maharashtra and many such instances point to just one thing :
Meat is now a political (meaty) product.
It has suddenly become an important part of national politics and no political party will now take the risk of going against the ‘bhakt’ sentiments.
Even as the Jharkhand Government earlier last week issued an order for closure of all illegal slaughterhouses in the state within 72 hours, the Gujarat State Assembly on Friday amended its Cow Protection Law introducing a life term for those slaughtering the animal. Seven illegal slaughterhouses were sealed in Bihar’s Rohtas district after the Patna High Court directed them be sealed within six weeks. [source]
So yes, if you are doing a startup in this space – ensure that you operate in safer locations (like South/Central and Eastern side) and hit North only when things settle down (these incidents aren’t just about illegal slaughterhouses).
The challenge is not just around the business / unit economics model or operational model, but the lack of control or even visibility on external factors that will just force you to shut down without any prior notice (you never know which state government decides to ban which product by tomorrow morning).
Building a deeper consumer business in India (which impacts the current food chain) has become tougher. And given how law and order operates, all I can tell you is :
May the (external) force be with you.
There are two ways to look at it:
- Do it because nobody else is doing it.OR
- Don’t do it because this is an unpredictable space.
FYI: Licious recently raised $10mn. Would be interesting to see how they expand in North.