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  • COVID-19 cripples cashew nut, liquor business in State 07/06/2020

    Jul 6th, 2020

    With COVID-19 wreaking havoc in the country, the effects have started showing in the retail business too. The cashew nut and liquor industry in Goa has taken a beating. Sales have slumped more than 75 per cent. In fact, in some cases, especially in the costal belt, cashew nut sales have gone down by as much as 99 per cent as there are no tourists. In the liquor industry also the sale of premium liquor has nosedived. People are now buying liquor which costs less than Rs 400 per bottle. “The overall sales have dropped by 75 per cent. From the balance 25 per cent, about ninety per cent sales are happening only in those brands which are priced at Rs 100-250 per bottle. Brands in the range of Rs 250-1000 per bottle constitute about eight per cent of current sales and two per cent of the sales are happening in brands which are priced above Rs 1000 per bottle,” said Dattaprasad Naik, President of Goa Liquor Traders Association (GLTA). “Those companies which are having liquor or wine priced at Rs 1000 per bottle and above, it is curtains for them. There are no buyers as people do not have money and the economy is almost at a standstill. The effect has been further multiplied with the closure of bars and restaurants. We do not see this industry reviving in next 12 months or so. The condition of those who have taken shops on rent is worse as they are unable to earn and pay salary to their employees. About 200 liquor shops in the State have already shut down,” Naik added. The shops which are located in the coastal belt are most affected as they depended mostly on tourists for their sales as against those shops which are located in the cities. “The month of June and December are considered the best season for sale of liquor in Goa and this June we have suffered hugely due to less sale. This is a unique situation. We support the Chief Minister completely but we also request that the period of licence fee which we have paid should be extended,” said Naik. The licence fee for selling liquor in Goa from 8 am to 9 pm is around Rs 50,000 and to sell for additional one hour from 9 pm to 10 pm the retailers have to pay an additional Rs 25,000. “April and May we were completely shut and now we are allowed to open our shops till 8 pm. Our request is to let those who have paid the additional licence fee for one hour be allowed to carry forward the relaxation to the next year. We are not asking for refunds but it would be a big relief for the industry,” said Naik. Dinesh Kanavdekar, who has two liquor shops in Mapusa said, “The IMFL liquor sale is really down as the local Goans normally drink feni. The bars are closed and the migrant labourers who used to consume have all left. There is hardly a bottle being sold in a day. There is no money, no consumer and the situation is really precarious.” Similarly, Hyacinth Mascarenhas from Candolim but away from the coastal area is worried about his liquor business. “The migrant labourers have gone back and Goans hardly buy. May be 10-15 per cent of our sales it to locals. My major clients are small bars and restaurants. The vendors are calling us for money and the sales are down. The situation is really tough for us. I have a 28-member family and it is very difficult to support with hardly any earnings from our business. The business is down by 90 per cent. Even offers given by the companies are not well accepted by the customers as there are no buyers,” said Hyacinth Mascarenhas. The cashew nut business is also facing a very tough times. Secretary of Goa Cashew Manufacturing Association (GCMA), Rohit Zantye believes that the industry and market will not revive unless vaccine of COVID-19 is out and that will take a year or so. “The retail sales of cashew are down by 90 per cent and there is hardly any sale. However, the market is not too bad for the broken cashew which is primarily used by sweetmeat shops and households. Most of the cashew was bought by the tourists as souvenier for themselves, family and friends. That bulk buying is close to zero,” said Rohit Zantye. He said that those shops which are on rent, are suffering a major loss and many of them are on the verge of closing down as there is no revenue generation and overhead expenses are very high to maintain. “There is no demand right now for cashew and I am worried about the rampant spread of COVID-19 which will directly affect the business of cashew. However, it is time for Goa to come together and clean the cashew nut business, which is infested with black sheep,” said Zantye. Omprakash Sangtani of Kaju Palace from Campal said that we have opened the shop for about 40 days now and there is no business. “My business is dependent on cashew but since there are no tourists there is no business. I am pained to say that on some days I do not sell anything.”