INDIA: While the nation remains under a lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, food aggregator Zomato is chalking out ways to launch liquor delivery. According to Reuters News report, Zomato – Indian food delivery company aims to diversify its business into delivering alcohol to cash in on high demand for booze during the lockdown in the country.

Zomato had already dived into the business of grocery delivery as the restrictions on movement began. People were hesitant to order outside food due to the fear of infection. The company, however, strategized well by starting operations in grocery delivery.

On March 25, alcohol stores were closed after the announcement of nationwide lockdown. A huge crowd from all parts of the country was found on roads standing in long queues outside alcohol stores when the stores were allowed to reopen last week. It made it difficult for the police & store owners to ensure social distancing.

The Governments of Delhi & Andhra Pradesh,

thereafter, introduced a “Special Corona Fee” on top of retail alcohol prices, while Mumbai shut its liquor stores within two days of reopening them.

Meanwhile, Chhattisgarh introduced the home delivery of alcohol in the state. However, the process hasn’t started yet.

There is currently no legal provision for home deliveries of alcohol operational in India, something that industry body International Spirits and Wines Association of India (ISWAI) is lobbying to change in conjunction with Zomato and others.

Mohit Gupta, CEO, Zomato, wrote in a business proposal to ISWAI, “We believe that a technology-enabled home delivery based solution can promote responsible consumption of alcohol.”

He further wrote that the company would target “areas that are relatively less affected by COVID-19″.

Executive Chairman of ISWAI, Amrit Kiran Singh told Reuters that states should allow alcohol deliveries to help boost state revenues hit by the lockdown.

“The challenge is to ensure revenue from alcohol continues to be available & It is imperative they (states) reduce the load on the retail counters by encouraging home delivery.” Mr.Singh said in a statement.

The liquor market was worth $27.2 billion in 2018 in India, according to the most recent figures from London-based research group IWSR Drinks Market Analysis. Backed by Ant Financial – an affiliate of China’s Alibaba Group Holding – Zomato bought Uber Indian food delivery business in January.

Zomato did not respond to a request for comment. Its main local rival is Swiggy, which is backed by China’s Tencent and which Singh said ISWAI had also contacted. Swiggy too declined to comment.