According to a recent news story, online sales of meat are booming.
“Now you can go online and order your favorite protein at the click of a mouse,” the article began. “The startup world has started showing interest in the meat industry, as it has an opportunity to revolutionize this unorganized sector.”
The story noted that early entrants to the online sales sector include Zappfresh, Licious and Easymeat, start-ups that in a matter of months have captured enough sales revenue to break even. Zappfresh, which focuses on working women age 27 to 40, has plans to offer more than 100 SKUs by the end of the year.
“The demand is huge, and the domestic market is untapped,” the start-up’s co-founder said.
And this is all taking place in India.
Here in The States, the prospects are equally sanguine.
According to the market research firm IBIS World, revenues in the online grocery sector industry have averaged more than 16.6% annual growth over the last five years, reaching an estimated total of more than $13 billion.
Here’s another interesting aspect of that development: Unlike conventional retailing, online food sales remains a very diverse sector, with a low level of concentration. According to IBIS World data, the top four players accounted for less than 14.7% of total sector revenues in 2015.
“Many online grocery retailers are small- to medium-sized private establishments that operate on a state and regional level and serve niche markets,” the IBIS report stated. “Although online grocery retailers offer similar products and services, low industry concentration stems partly from the diversity of regions covered by industry operators, as well as problems related to scale.”
As an example, sector leader PeaPod, which reportedly services more than 350,000 customers in 12 states and the District of Columbia, only has about 5.4% of the total share of online grocery sales.
Along with grassfed beef, free-range pork and naturally grown chicken, a couple clicks of a mouse brings up a slew of websites that offer a bewildering variety of choices of wild and game meats.
One such site, ExoticMeats.com. offers everything from ostrich and quail to kangaroo to rabbit meat. The site even customizes the network of online retailers state-by-state. For example, in where live in western Washington, I can order 6 pounds of alligator baby back ribs for only $129.00. Or a pair of elk rib chops for about $20 bucks. Or go whole hog on the camel-elk-buffalo-alligator-wild boar sampler for the low, low price of only $149.99 (or two for $290).
And if I’ve got another four or five minutes to spare, I could browse another dozen such sites to compare prices, selection and shipping terms.
That kind of comparative research is a big reason online sales of meat products are growing for marketers that can offer competitive deals.
There is one other factor driving online sales potential, one that cannot be underestimated.
I don’t want to label it as laziness, so let’s just call it “a love of convenience.” The ease, the simplicity and of late, the reliability of online shopping will continue to exert powerful, positive pressure on the growth curve of online food and meat purchasing.
Look, I’ll admit it: I did all of my Christmas shopping last year — all of it — sitting on my couch on a Sunday morning in December, watching the Seattle Seahawks crush the Baltimore Ravens, ordering stuff on my phone, most of it shipped directly to the recipients, complete with holiday cards and in some cases, gift wrapping.
I was done before halftime.
Is it really a matter of speculation that online meat sales will be able to capitalize on such behavior?
Dan Murphy is a food-industry journalist and commentator