Punjab’s signature sarson da saag and dal makhni are now available online, apart from eight other delicacies prepared and canned by the state’s premier farmers’ cooperative. The Punjab State Cooperative Supply and Marketing Federation Limited, or Markfed, has tied up with virtual retailer Amazon since March 1.
Orders for the products branded ‘Sohna’ are coming in even from Mumbai, Patna and Gurgaon. So far the online sales are a tiny part of the farmer-cooperative unit’s total revenue, but it’s picking up gradually, say officials. The canned products on offer include rajmah, matar-paneer, chana and palak paneer, besides other seasonal dishes.
Markfed has been exporting ready-to-eat and other edible items such as cooking oil, sauces, jams and rice to the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and other European countries, besides Philippines and the Gulf, but was missing out on the domestic market beyond Punjab. Its milk brand Verka is a household name in the region, but has been facing competition from another, Gujarat-headquartered cooperative Amul.
“There is huge Punjabi diaspora and Punjabi food lovers in different parts of our country, and before a tie-up with Amazon we were not catering to them. Now a huge market has opened up,” Markfed managing director Gurkiratkirpal Singh told HT. “Also sales on Amazon help build Markfed as a much stronger brand,” he added.
Doing total annual business of about Rs 20 crore, Markfed last year (2014-15) recorded a turnover of Rs 11 crore in India and Rs 9 crore in foreign countries. According to Singh, in online sales Markfed is competing with the ready-to-eat products of MTR and ITC. “We have a niche market and a typical Punjabi taste that sets us apart,” he further added.