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By TPCI | September 13, 2019

With speedy proliferation in their food business, since inception in 2013, Jubilant Consumer is now a full-fledged customized and fresh food supplier to myriad food service establishments ranging from big restaurant chains to standalone restaurants.

With a plethora of business verticals ranging from fresh produce to canned and dehydrated products, this food processing firm enjoys a stronghold in the ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat segments today.

In this conversation with IndusFood, Mr. Vishal Mahajan, CEO, Jubilant Consumer Pvt Ltd, talks about his business, ideas for venturing into global trade, plans for expansion and gives us some surprising industry insights.

IndusFood: Jubilant Consumer came into existence in 2013. How has the business grown since inception and how has the journey been?
Vishal Mahajan: We started off as manufacturers of ready-to-use fresh produce for the food service sector. Apart from our anchor customers like Dominos & Yum!, we have, over the years practically worked with the entire quick service restaurant industry as our customers. Many different restaurants, restaurant chains and a number of food service establishments are among our clientele. We have acquired this customer base through intense efforts on building our supply chain and rigorous adherence to international quality standards.

We have travelled our journey from setting up our own farms across the North and West India; running strategically situated collection centers and processing centers across the country for fresh produce. We also have multiple trusted manufacturing partners which produce canned products and ready-to-eat products. Apart from this, we manufacture our frozen products in-house.

Today, we are already a strategic supplier of fresh foods on Amazon and other e-commerce platforms and almost all names in organized retail sector.

So, in terms of changes, I think the business model has transformed, because we are now in all parts of the value chain from farm to table. Through our retail chains, we also have products, which are fresh and healthy. I would say, it has been an incredible journey. We have learnt a lot of things and as a part of our growth journey, we hope to be an integral part of IndusFood’s plans also.

IndusFood: What impediments to growth did you face early? How did you meet them?
VM: Every day has been an interesting day. Over the last five years, we have encountered and overcome several challenges. We have understood where India is super competitive, which pockets of India need market linkages & which area fits in strategically with our growing plans. So we believe that we now understand the value equation in a way that it can stand the test of quality and cost in the international markets.

So, we now have access to market intelligence which very clearly gives us understanding of how to leverage this entire knowledge so as to create value for customers in India and abroad.

IndusFood: What are your main product lines and how are you competitively placed in the market?
VM: Our emphasis is on meeting consumer needs as they exist. We don’t really want to emerge as a player or supplier of standardised products in the B2B domain. Our forte is in customisation. We have skilled and trained resources to actually meet that need. So we develop customised food solutions. Within that range, we have solutions for making intermediate ingredients, final products and also have solutions, which can cater to different needs of the customers in terms of product or cuisine format.

For example we have ready-to-use ingredients, which save time and cost for chefs across the globe. We have products which are ready-to-eat across cuisines and we also have solutions which can fulfill the need of a chef to either enhance the taste or save time or ensure that products can be served in various restaurants without the need of any skilled man power. So our products help our customers to save on all the three basic fronts of any food service organization: the precious real estate; time; and product consistency, thereby enabling our customers to become even more competitive in the market. So, any of the solutions that we have, whether it is gravy, marinades, simmer sauces, dehydrated products, or customized products, which are frozen in nature and can be heated or served; fried or served; all work towards making the food service industry more competitive.

These products are made in Jubilant’s food processing plants, that spread pan-India; that make long shelf life products whether they are retorted products, canned products, frozen products or dehydrated products. All the plants comply with FSSC 22000 certifications. All our fresh produce product facilities are certified individually by global QA teams of brands like Subway, Burger King, Yum!, and Dominos thereby ensuring that the food that we make is compliant with the highest standards of international quality.

In addition to B2B and exports business, we have also started our own restaurant chain of stores under the brand name of GoGourmet which has fresh and healthy products. Also, we have launched a fresh produce retail chain under the brand name of Fresh Finds.

IndusFood: How can India improve its realization in the fresh and ready-to-eat segments?
VM: We believe that India can add value and is super competitive in two major segments; fresh produce and the ready-to-eat segments. We also realize that the planning and quality of our fresh produce is competitive.

Today, with fresh produce and fruits of quality at par and best in the world, India is at a position where it can produce standardized products and it can ship out these products, specifically in fresh produce domain, in which we at Jubilant have a very strong domain experience.

But there are a few things which Indian agricultural industry needs. One is branding, presence of strong, cheaper transportation system in the cold chain and best-in-class packaging solutions. If these two things are enabled, first our volumes would go up and our realizations would improve.

If the international market understands Indian quality and if logistics support is made available, then I can very confidently say that the Indian farmer’s realization can improve. So, there is a very strong case for India to step-up its game in the exports of fresh produce and we are also very keen to play a part in that.

Another category, as I mentioned, where Indian could be export competitive is ready-to-eat segments which are specially targeted at people who prefer Indian cuisine abroad; both the Indian diaspora and the people from across the nationalities as well.

IndusFood: How far has the company penetrated the international market and what are your future plans in this regard?
VM: We have till now exported to Kuwait and Nigeria only. We want to tap international markets for our fresh produce; specifically exotic vegetables like yellow and red capsicum, iceberg lettuce and romaine lettuce; and high value herbs like basil and parsley grown indigenously in the regions of Himalaya and Maharashtra and pomegranates. We also want to actively explore canned products.

To sum up we also want to actively explore export opportunities of our products like gravies, sauces, marinades, ready-to-eat and canned products in the long shelf life range and fruits, fresh produce and exotic vegetables in short shelf life range.

We want to tap the markets in Middle East, Australia and Europe, along with focus on inter-Asia trade, as we feel that we can cater to demand in these countries very well.

IndusFood: Can you please name some products that need shelf space and marketing attention?
VM: Pomegranate is one fruit in the fresh produce segment that needs both market attention and branding. When it comes to harvesting a good quality pomegranate we have to look for the colour of kernels, the taste should be sweet and there should not be any blemishes on the outer skin of the product. We source our entire fresh pomegranate produce from Nasik and Gujarat. India can be a major player in this segment.

The second Indian product that comes to mind is “Kinnow -- the Mandrid Orange”. Grown in many parts of the country, this citrus fruit needs branding and can scale up in the international market.

IndusFood: How do you see IndusFood as a platform for placing Indian food on the global palate?
VM: Indus Food is a great platform for Indian manufacturers to exhibit their products and take their message to the world. We are in fact very excited and looking forward to participate in Indus food 2020.

We believe that IndusFood can be a great catalyst for Indian suppliers, service providers and the food processing industry as a whole. We are very thankful to TPCI for bringing best-in-class organizations in the trade fair. This will in turn enable us to connect with the globe and leverage India’s capabilities for the best opportunities that exist in the world.