New Delhi: Indian food delivery company Zomato now wants to branch out and start alcohol delivery, as per a document accessed by Reuters, said reports. It also seeks to cash in on the high demand for liquor during the nationwide lockdown over COVID-19 pandemic.
As people are now hesitant to go outdoors due to the pandemic which has also resulted in the shuttering down of various restaurants, Zomato has already diversified into delivery of grocery.
Liquor stores, which were shut down across the nation on March 25, were permitted to re-open this week, leading to serpentine queues across several places in India, prompting police officials to enforce strict physical distancing norms.
Videos of scores of people queuing up in front of wine shops without any regard for physical distancing have been doing the rounds on social media platforms. To dissuade the huge groups, authorities in New Delhi even presented a “Special Corona Fee” of 70% on retail liquor costs, while alcohol shops were shut down within two days of its re-opening in Mumbai.
There is currently no legitimate arrangement for home conveyances of liquor in India, something that the industry body International Spirits and Wines Association of India (ISWAI) is campaigning to change in league with Zomato and others. Zomato CEO Mohan Gupta wrote in a business proposal to ISWAI, “We believe that a technology-enabled home delivery-based solution can promote responsible consumption of alcohol.”
Gupta even wrote to the ISWAI in mid-April that the delivery service would target the areas that are relatively less affected by the pandemic.
The ban on alcohol sales across India is hitting the government to the tune of Rs 700 crore a day in terms of loss of revenue. In the financial year of 2019-2020 various states budgeted for Rs 1.70 lakh crore through a tax on the sale of liquor alone. Also, according to the most recent figures from London-based research group IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, India’s liquor market was worth almost $27.2 billion in 2018. Amrit Kiran Singh, executive chairman of ISWAI, said states ought to permit liquor conveyances to assist with the boosting of state revenues hit by the lockdown.
Reports suggested that ISWAI has also contacted Swiggy regarding the delivery of alcohol in India.