Food is one of the, if not the most important requirement for the survival of humanity. So much so, that there is a worldwide trillion dollar industry that caters to just feeding people. What you eat and where you get it is mostly a matter of location versus convenience, however, in today’s time and date, we can safety assume that no matter where you go in this country, you will not go hungry.
That being said, the true champions of suburban food supply chains have been the small scale supermarket chains such as Easy Day, More, Big Bazaar, D Mart and others. They have showcased the promise that super-retailers like Walmart and Amazon bring to the market in terms of logistics and operations efficiency. In fact, Easy Day has been the first and most successful example of this, since it was formed due to a collaboration between Walmart and Bharti Enterprises, under the Future Retail banner, which incidentally also owns Big Bazaar, a brand that was merged in to Easy Day in 2015.
Therefore, it is no surprise that we see the brand enjoy a strong brand loyalty among customers that they have cultivated via their stores in hundreds of Indian cities, with a significant number being in Tier 2 and 3 cities and towns. People have chosen these brands over local grocery and general provision stores because they have been promised a safe and hygienic environment with products that are fresh and come at rates that are standard across all locations.
These promises of safety and uniformity can thus be qualified as the cornerstones of their business. Which is why it is so disheartening to see one of these cornerstones being so blatantly ignored.
In the pictures above, one might argue that all they can see is the front porch of a supermarket, but those with a more discerning eye, it is the delivery dock, storage space as well as a display rack, all rolled in to one. It is a true and stark look at the cost cutting these firms do in order to maximize their profits. In an ideal world, the delivery dock would be in the rear of the facility, so as to not hamper the front entrance; the storage would also be indoors and in a safe and dry location, where animals cannot just sit around and pick their lunch. Most importantly, once the groceries have been arranged for display, they should definitely not be left outside the store itself, to weather the elements of nature as well as serve as a shelter for stray dogs.
Those are three separate, yet equally horrific violations that in any other country would have by now led to the closing of the store, or a change in the managerial staff at the least. However, unfortunately for us, this is India and people still manage to get away with such blatant acts of mismanagement just on the basis of the “Chalta Hai” philosophy.
They count on our apathy as citizens and consumers to give them a pass on risking our lives with countless germs, bacteria and viruses that can very easily make their way in to our food chain, thanks to the easy access they have to our food supply. The irony is that these were the exact conditions that people were sick and tired of in local mandi’s and that drove them to the point where they were comfortable paying extra (sometimes in prices, and other times in taxes) for the better conditions that these supermarkets promised.
Now we are back to first base, as displays like this are now encouraging more and more people to stop buying locally altogether, and start experimenting with buying everything (from FMCG goods to groceries and dairy products) online, in hopes to getting better prices and even more streamlined logistics and delivery services. People, who still don’t use credit cards on a regular basis, but are now willing to trust in advanced technologies like blockchain, if it means that they can finally trust that the claim of a product coming directly from farm to table is truly what it is promised.
It is understandable that by this point, some of you might think that these opinions are too drastic, and one or two dogs sitting next to the food supplies at one Easy Day is not the end of the world. We agree. But even if it is not the end of the world, it is still a worrying symptom, of a disease known as complacency, which will eventually lead this rot to grow in to negligence, a factor that has brought many companies to their knees, when left unchecked. This is why, at the end all we can say is, beware and good luck.