Updates Details

By TPCI | November 22, 2019

Richlite is an inspiring success story of first generation visionary entrepreneurs, who have built one of India’s fastest growing biscuit companies. With a range of sweet and salty delicacies, Richlite is scaling new heights and has successfully carved a niche for itself in the ever-growing biscuit market in India.

Having a rich experience of over 25 years, especially in the biscuit industry, Arun Sehgal has been associated with Richlite as a Director and has pioneered the growth of the organization since 2012. Talking to IndusFood, Sehgal gives some strikingly interesting insights on the Indian food industry, breaks some myths and also emphasises on the greater acceptability of Indian regional cuisines internationally.

IndusFood: Richlite is a brand that enjoys global acceptance today. When and how were the mentors triggered to ideate & set up this venture? How has the journey been?
Arun Sehgal: It was the consistent growth of the Indian bakery and confectionary industry that grabbed the attention of the makers of Richlite, when they pledged to commence the biscuit venture with a vision to focus on quality back in the year 2012. We launched our Neemrana plant in 2013, where we were able to make inroads to achieve 1,000 MT production in the first three months. With the best quality and taste of our products, demand increased consistently and we were encouraged to enhance the capacity of our manufacturing unit.

With further expansions in the year 2014, we increased our production to 2,800 MT a month. Now a days, we are successfully producing and selling 2,500 Mt per month. Last year, we have taken another biscuit factory in Sonipat, Haryana with installed capacity of 1,500 MT in a month. Thus, the total capacity of Richlite Foods, today, is above 4,200 MT per month.

IndusFood: What transformational changes has the brand undergone in terms of products, innovation, facilities, revenue, etc. since its inception?
AS: Richlite has emerged as one of the major players in the biscuit industry and is slowly advancing out of the regional player bracket. A customer-centric approach, value-for-money offerings, strong focus on affordable price points, innovation and research, brand building, production capacity expansions and strong distribution strategies continue to remain as the company’s major strengths. This was not `luck by chance’; the company has consciously built this in its culture to `deliver value’ and taste to its prospective buyers.

Furthermore, adhering to the compulsive trend of changes & healthy modifications in the product lines so as to stay relevant in the industry, we also have been undergoing many transformations from time to time. We entered with butter and cream biscuits in the industry, as 80% of the market was shared by the same product. Eventually, we added more products like Glucose, Coconut, Marie, Jeera and other Sweet and Salt products one by one. Today, we have around 40 different type of SKUs in one brand, i.e., Richlite.

Today with the other two brands, Fun Treat – a wholesale brand and Canverra, we are blessed with three brands all together, which have captured their respective markets very well. Worth mentioning, we are going to launch another brand which is “Fun Rich”, which would be a premium range of high-end biscuits. We plan to launch it soon, especially in the Punjab, Haryana, J&K and the export markets; packaging and designing is underway.

IndusFood: How has the brand expanded in the international front? What are the key market areas where you currently export and find demand from? Also, which could be the countries you wish to tap through IndusFood 2020?
AS: Earlier, back in mid-2000s, only a few companies in Northern India region used to export their products in the biscuit industry. “Unbearable Transportation Cost” was the major reason for this restriction. Various small to big ventures, especially in Ulhasnagar area in western India on the other hand, had a stronghold in the market with large production units. Eventually, it was only when North Indian companies also started to take a plunge in the export market, we realized that our production capacity was high and thus the cost of production was very low as compared to the west Indian companies. Over the period of time, many companies plunged into exports and came into the picture including us. However, the unique part of our story was that ever since we started in 2013, we had a clear vision to indulge in exports.

We have a strong network of 150+ business partners. Through them, we distribute our product in the complete North Indian market covering J&K, Himachal, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Delhi NCR and Uttar Pradesh. Along with the domestic market, our product has extremely good acceptability in overseas markets such as UAE, Afghanistan, Iraq, GCC countries like Kuwait, Qatar, etc. and African countries as Congo, Kenya Somalia, Tanzania, Rwanda & Seychelles, South Sudan etc. We have high demand coming in from the South Sudan market. Moreover, the African market has been the top destination of Indian biscuits for exports at large.

Being new entrants in the biscuit industry, initially, where giant players were already in the market with brand existence of more than 100 years, sales of RICHLITE biscuits have never been a problem at any point of time, because of their excellent quality, taste, strong network and dedicated sales team.

Up till now, domestic market sweeps our major share (90%). However, we are actively looking for expanding our exports. Our new plant in Sonipat would be a catalyser to this vision, for sure.

IndusFood: What has been the role of R&D in your growth & success? Is there any recent product innovation or R&D you wish to share with IndusFood? Are there any product launch scheduled in the near future?
AS: Richlite has grown into a global brand by consistently delivering quality. We are well equipped with modern machineries and technologies. Our expert staff uses advanced production techniques and equipment to ensure perfection. We have an international acclaim as our scrumptious sweet and savoury items are appreciated globally. Worth mentioning, our newly installed Sonipat-plant is almost fully-automated which again ensures quality with minimal human intervention.

We use three major ingredients in our products: wheat flour (60-65%), palm oil and sugar. So, all the raw materials used are lab tested in our own huge labs installed in our plants. Not even a single carton is unloaded until and unless it passes the test. Also, we get our products tested every six months by the international agency named as Bureau Veritas as per the guidance of FSSAI.

IndusFood: Can you mention any changes in the consumer behavior pattern in India and globally? Are there any new trends underway in the world of taste?
AS: We have marked a major trend in terms of packaging in the international market. Consumers want multiple flavours and varieties in a single pack. Moreover, in biscuit industry, consumer requirement and demand keep on fluctuating and so we do need to change our product lines from time to time. Over the years, we have seen demand changing from glucose, to coconut to butter to cream biscuits. Today, organic and sugar free or sugar less biscuits are in high demand.

IndusFood: How do you see the persistent wave of organic eating across the globe?
AS: Se, first of all there is a dire need of awareness, which the Indian consumers lack tremendously. For this, the consumers need to develop a habit of reading the description, facts and nutrition values given at the back of the packaging of the product. Only then the mass would be able to source and eat healthy and pure products. Thus, we just need to feed our belly with pure products rather than running blindly for organic.

Also, it is high time when consumers need to change their demand pattern. One should source and choose the product by quality and not just by cost. Otherwise, this vicious cycle of adulteration and filthy food, which starts from customers and ends at them, would never end.

IndusFood: How do see the placement of Indian snacks food products in the global palate? What is the growth envisaged in exports in the industry?
The target markets in overseas countries are changing and evolving. It is not just the Indian diaspora in various countries but also the native people who are liking our products and becoming our target audience.

For example, Indian tea as “Chai” has been placed so well in the international food space. The airports in US have Chai outlets just named as Chai. This is how we have been received by the world, which is so positive and welcoming. Indian food is finding good placement across the globe. It is especially the European countries who are following and adapting to Indian culture and food habits in a big way. The time has gone when it was only rice, meat or spices that were exported. Today, a variety of Indian products travel overseas ranging from tea, honey to snacks, biscuits & namkeens and ready to eat, frozen to what not!

IndusFood: Can you please name some product(s) that needs shelf space and marketing attention in the food or allied industry?
AS: Indian “desi” food is slowly finding space in the international market. It is at its very nascent stage, though. Needless to say that, it should be marketed more aggressively and branded well. For an instance, Guajarati food is so well placed today because the Guajaratis are very aggressive in their marketing. On the other hand Punjabi cuisine has been successful in pleasing the palates of almost the entire globe and is quite famous, but its placement in the international market could not be that aggressive as compared to the Gujarati foods.

So, there is a huge potential for the regional products of UP, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Punjab to get well placed and transcend boundaries. Like, if we talk of sweets, Ghotua is a traditional delicacy from Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. With a unique making process, where “boondi” is pestled well with good amount of “desi ghee” in a mortar, this dish is hardly known to masses beyond Jaisalmer. It is definitely a melt-in-the-mouth delicacy which can and should definitely be exported.

There are more similar products as the Peda of Hansi, Gajarpak (kind of red coloured barfi) apart from Gajrela, Rui Ghevar exclusive from Sonipat, etc.

IndusFood: Have you participated in IndusFood earlier? Please share your experience. Is there any product of yours that is to be launched in IndusFood’s upcoming fixture in 2020? What is your take on IndusFood launching Indusfood-Tech and Indusfood-Chem as brand extensions? Will it help the industry?
AS: We participated in IndusFood in both the editions, 2018 and 19, and I am happy to share that we had received a lot of orders from the show in the past years. We are looking forward to tap the African, European, and American markets in particular through IndusFood 2020. Moreover, the best part about the show was the core focus on international buyers which justifies its very existence as an F&B export show.