Tuesday, July 16, 2019


“Ninety-eight per cent of existing seafood market unorganised”
Monday, 09 July, 2018, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
WestCoast Group is India’s only fully-integrated aquaculture and seafood company, headquartered in Mumbai. The main operating companies under the group are West Coast Frozen Foods Pvt Ltd and West Coast Fine Foods (India) Pvt Ltd.

Over the past 19 years, WestCoast has carved a niche for itself in the industry is currently focused on multiplying the scale of its integrated aquaculture business with the concept of taking shrimps from farm to fork.

The group proudly boasts that We know our Shrimps; we grow our Shrimps and Fish so fresh, Its Alive.

It exports probiotic farm-raised seafood under its flagship brand, Cambay Tiger, to over 30 world markets including the United States, Canada, Europe, South Africa and other Asian countries.

WestCoast is also one of India’s leading domestic distributors of frozen seafood, vegetables and vegetarian snacks (under the brand Frish) through is presence across India’s leading retail outlets and supply to hotels, restaurants and caterers, along with presence in e-commerce.

Shivam Gupta, chief executive director, Cambay Tiger, and director, WestCoast Group, in an e-mail interaction with Shraddha Joshi, spoke about the prevalent trends and how the domestic seafood market is undergoing a sea change.

What are the prevalent trends in the domestic seafood market? Do you think that the domestic seafood market is undergoing a sea change with new consumer buying behaviour, especially in the metros?
There is a paradigm shift in metros in terms of people’s preference towards buying their seafood. Today they prefer to buy from modern retail outlets, compared to a traditional fish market. The shift is due to hygiene, quality, and convenience factors.

There is a greater acceptance of marinated and ready-to-cook formats of foods to suit the busy urban lifestyle of people in metros.

There is a growing awareness that fish is the best of the available proteins, and that it is healthier than pulses, red or white meats.

There is a growing curiosity to know about the source of the food we eat, hence the increasing demand for farm raised, traceable fish.

There is also a social element to people moving toward farmed fish. Over-fishing is a real problem in our waters.

The natural catch every year is reducing and sustainably-farmed seafood is already attracting premiums abroad.

Price fluctuation and a general inflation around sea catch will inevitably move people more towards farmed seafood.

We, at Cambay Tiger, are eagerly studying the changing consumer buying and taste patterns and constantly evolving ourselves to meet the changes.

What are the challenges in the domestic market?
Challenges and opportunities co-exist. Almost 98 per cent of the existing seafood market is not organised.  So, there is a very large opportunity to organise it.

Also, the high-quality protein is currently not affordable for a large section of the population, and we see enough scope to increase its accessibility through distribution techniques and make it more affordable.

The other big challenge is the uncertainty around seafood. People are far more comfortable with poultry in terms of handling it, buying at and cooking it.

This is also where a lot of marketing work needs to be done to help the market get more comfortable with seafood.

There is a large market of people new to seafood who lack the knowledge of buying or cooking fish.

We engage with these customers, by hosting cooking sessions at their homes through our expert culinary teams and help them make seafood a larger part of their diet.

From being a manufacturer of seafoods, you have ventured into retailing? What was the idea behind setting up your own shops?
Seafood is a delicate produce, which spoils easily. So one has to be extra sensitive in its rearing, storing, transporting and selling.

As seafood experts, we wanted to leverage our backward integration and the trust and reputation our brand enjoys to showcase how we believe seafood should be handled and sold.

This has led us opening our first Cambay Tiger Seafood Mart (CTSM) in Bandra, Mumbai, followed by Lokhandwala (Mumbai) and Defence Colony, Delhi.

CTSM is a boutique shop that gives a unique shopping experience of buying seafood. The ambience, design, display, and human resources encounters at the mart have been tailored to give customers a first-of-its-kind seafood buying experience in India.

Provide details about brands and product range available at your stores.
Cambay Tiger Seafood Mart offers live, chilled and frozen seafood. We retail seafood such as prawns, tilapia and basa, reared in our own farms in a well-monitored environment. The stores also sell Atlantic Salmon, flown all the way from Norway, which produces the world’s best quality salmon. This ensures sushi-quality fresh fish.

We also source local favorites such as pomfret, seer fish, sardines, mackerel, mud-crabs, Rohu and Katla, along-with ready-to-cook products (marinated and breaded).

Besides this, we sell our frozen brands, including the vegetarian Frish and Kawan brands.

Cambay Tiger has many innovations to its credit. For instance, we display tanks in our stores with live fish, where customers could pick and choose their live fish.

We are the only ones in the industry doing modified atmospheric packaging (MAP) for our products, which is far superior to ensure freshness at the kitchen level, etc.

Which are your best-selling products, and what percentage do they contribute to the overall revenue?
Prawns, tilapia and basa, grown in our own farms, are currently gaining huge popularity with our customer base, due their quality, and we are able to supply consistently at similar prices year round, adding value to the customers’ purchase. These products contribute to 70 per cent of our total retail revenue.

Most sea-caught varieties’ prices fluctuate year round, depending on catch. Geographically, the West and North generate the most business for us.

What is the shelf space that you allocate for your main product categories?
About 50 per cent of our store shelf space contributes to 70 per cent of our revenue. With regards to modern trade, the best-selling products vary depending upon location, demographics, etc.

What will be the impact of this year’s budget on fisheries and aquaculture?
This Budget has been good for aquaculture and fisheries sectors, compared to those of previous years.

The Rs 10,000-crore allocation for fisheries, aquaculture and animal husbandry sectors, extending Kisan Credit Cards to fisheries and the doubling of allocation of food processing to Rs 1,400 crore are worth mentioning and will give a boost to the sectors.

The support and incentives on agriculture and rural economy, micro-, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), healthcare, road development and infrastructure seem to be in the right direction.
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