‘80% of food supplies come from outside Goa’

BY NESHWIN ALMEIDA | NT

PANAJI: "The consumption of vegetables by five star hotels across Goa is almost one tonne a day during season with tomatoes topping the list with an average supply of 400 kgs supplied everyday.

But there is a 20 per cent drop during the off-season with the monsoons coming in," states Mr M K Rai, vegetable supplier to high-end hotels for almost 35 years.

Mr Victor Albuquerque of Dona Sylvia Resort and Radisson Blu stated, "For the 20 plus years I have been in the hotel industry, we have tried to continuously buy vegetables, meat, poultry from the local market, but Goa always faces scarcity of these perishables and they are not consistently available. That’s the reason we tender contracts to suppliers to get purchases from Belgaum, Karwar and Hyderabad. Karwar is a fishing hub and all supplies of fish come from there, especially during the fishing ban."

Ms Savita DaSilva, Materials Manager, Holiday-Inn, Cavelossim said, "The Goan markets are minus exotic vegetables. Now a few green thumbs and agriculture based entrepreneurs are tapping that segment. But till date all basil, broccoli, coloured cabbages and other exotic vegetables come from Bangalore and Pune. Even the 80 per cent of local produce of Goan vegetables bought from the Goan market is from suppliers and wholesalers who buy vegetable from Belgaum and other parts of Karnataka."

Ms Savita was quick to point out that though all five stars have 8-10 cold storage rooms of varied temperatures that differ to store fish, poultry and vegetable, Goan industry and government needs to invest in cold storage units and cold storage trucks so that perishables have a longer shelf life so that the supply to five star hotels is continuous."

The general manager of the Heritage Village Club, Arossim, Mr Guitry Velho states that availability of English vegetables is a problem in Goa so we have to source them from outside. I don’t think the climate here is conducive for cultivation of these vegetables,
he added.

Mr Peter D’Silva, General Manager, La Paz Hotel, Vasco said, "We are a three star property, but we purchase our poultry and vegetable supplies from the same chain of five star hotel suppliers. Poultry products come from big suppliers like Godrej, who supply from Hyderabad though huge commercially run poultries have mushroomed in South Goa, over the last five years, has added to the supply and demand for poultry in five star hotels. Royal Foods is one such name in the poultry industry to reckon with.

Ms DaSilva adds, "Goa needs to learn like the metro cities, for example Delhi and Mumbai to improve cold storage facilities and support farmers. If the supply is local than definitely prices and food tariffs at all high end hotels will definitely come down with cheaper and affordable prices."

Mr Albuquerque points out, "Besides fish coming in from Karwar, a small chunk of fish is now imported from the Philippines which is frozen. But we mostly stock fish at minus 70 degrees and stock up before the fishing ban."

"Fish for five star hotels is purchased at Margao wholesale market by all major hoteliers, while mutton is another scarce food product that has to be purchased from Belgaum. But off late a few butcheries have come up in Vasco that provide mutton at cheaper rates," adds Mr D’Silva.

Mr Rai confirms, "The quality of produce from Goa is very low. Tomatoes and even fruits are of small sizes and definitely not usable in starred hotels. We are forced to source these products every morning before the break of dawn from Belgaum and distribute them across five stars."

"The Goa markets are brilliant for tropical fruits like mangoes and bananas. Russian tourists are now making it a trend to visit Goa during the mango season. It’s also the time when tropical fruits like pineapple and papayas are readily available, that has set a trend in the tourism sector for Goa. I am also proud for the fact that cashews and cashew feni at least comes from our own state," states
Mr Albuquerque.

He also reveals that China is another emerging market as fruit suppliers. "Apples now come from Australia and China rather than Kashmir and Shimla."

Mr Vijay from Global Mushrooms, Margao states, "We supply almost 300 kgs of button mushrooms to Goan five star hotels and almost 900 kgs to Goa and Karnataka together, but mushrooms like peas have a very small shelf life and have to be supplied on a daily basis since we lack cold storage facilities."

Zuri WhiteSands, Varca’s Materials department informed that, "Supply of meat and poultry products besides milk has to come from outside Goa as cost of feed makes it difficult to tap this market locally."