In sharp contrast to the news of economic slowdown all over, the state of Kerala has hit the headlines with its new record in liquor and dairy sales. During the 10-day long festive season of Onam that came right after the flood devastation, the south Indian state saw ₹487 crore of sale in liquor.
According to the state-owned liquor retail monopoly, Kerala State Beverages Corporation (BEVCO), the sale of liquor through all the outlets in the past week has exceeded the previous year’s figures of ₹457 crores by ₹30 crore.
Milma, Kerala’s Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation, during the Onam week, sold 46.6 lakh litres of milk and 5.89 lakh litres of curd, according to its chairman PA Balan.
Kerala which witnesses an average daily demand of 16 lakh litres of milk, during the Onam season, saw a sharp dip last year, in the aftermath of floods, to 9.1 lakh litres per day. However, in January 2019 the demand rose to 13.5 lakh litres per day.
But the surge came this year when the state recorded the highest demand of dairy so much so that Milma had to buy milk from the Karnataka Milk Federation.
As for liquor sales, in the week preceding Onam in 2018, there was a slight drop of about ₹17 crores which was later declared to have touched ₹457 crores, adding up another ₹17 crores to 2017’s ₹440.16 crore sales.
Since 2016’s ₹411.14 crores, liquor sales have gone up by ₹75.86 crores.
Since all the Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) outlets were closed across the state on Thiruvonam (September 11), the highest sale was recorded on September 10.
“Nearly, ₹90.32 crore liquor was sold on September 10 this year and ₹88 crore was sold on the corresponding day, the previous year,” G Sparjan Kumar, Managing Director, BEVCO told The Financial Express.
Other than milk, Kerala is also dependant on other states for supply of rice, textiles, vegetables and now liquor. 40 percent of beer and 7 percent of IMFL procured by the state for its consumption comes from other parts of the country.
According to excise figures, the IMFL outlet in the town of Iringalakuda in Thrissur district registered sales of ₹1.44 crores on September 10 thereby becoming the only outlet to record such a huge sale this season. Other outlets in Kacheripady, Alappuzha and Powerhouse Road in Thiruvananthapuram stood second, third and fourth respectively, in sales.
In the 2018-19 financial year, liquor sales in the state touched a record ₹14,508 crore, pointing to the fact that the excise department’s trajectory is set for higher growth and revenue.
The figures point to an addition of ₹1,570 crores from the 2017-18 figures. In each month of the last financial year, sales have clocked upwards of ₹1,200 crore, as reported by The Indian Express.
Despite the amendment of liquor policy by the Congress-led UDF government which aims to reduce the consumption levels of alcoholic beverages in the state, Keralites, each year, make sure to push the levels to new heights.
The policy was introduced in 2017 by shutting down 700 liquor sale retail outlets, however, it doesn’t seem to have hindered the celebrations of Onam.
This clearly proves that despite the state being hit by natural calamities for two-consecutive years, people of Kerala have proved that nothing can stop them from celebrating Onam in all its colours.