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By TPCI | October 25, 2019

As a trailblazer in the manufacturing of food colors in India, Ajanta Chemical Industries commenced operations under the name 'Anant Chemical Industries’ in 1948, when the nation was importing food colours from European countries. In 1972, the company changed its name to ‘Ajanta Chemical Industries'.

Commencing from a miniscule business from home, Ajanta eventually found its way to own a leading chain of factories in India and become a major exporter of food colours, under the able leadership of Late Yag Dev Bhardwaj and subsequently his son Shuk Dev Bharadwaj.

Emphasizing on the quality production and environmental concerns borne by the colour industry at large, Mr. Amit Bharadwaj, the third generation scion of the Bharadwajs and CEO, Ajanta Chemical Industries interacts with Indusfood-Chem and shares some interesting insights on the growth potential of the Indian colouring industry:

Indusfood-Chem: Tell us about the company’s formation and growth story? How have you evolved as a business in India and also abroad?
Amit Bharadwaj: Possessing strong technical background in the field of dyes and its applications, Late Shri Yag Dev Bhardwaj put the foundation stone of 'Anant Chemical Industries’ for manufacturing of food colours in 1948, just after our country got freedom. Later the name was changed to ‘Ajanta Chemical Industries' in 1972.

In 1976, Ajanta Chemical Industries started export of raw material for colours of dyes & food additives, which had sudden traction due to demand for Denims worldwide. We specially started with the exports of Indigo color dye, first to Japan, as its demand in the international market was very high. Since then, we started making DOP, Baking Powder, Calcium Propionate & Detergents etc. and started developing raw materials of food additives.

My father, Shri Shuk Dev Bharadwaj joined the business on 1965 and focused on the intermediates of the key raw-materials. We started opening a chain of factories at Mayapuri, New Delhi (1969), Peera Garhi, New Delhi (1972), Sahibabad, Uttar Pradesh (1993), and Sohna (1996). We started our first plant at Bhiwadi, Rajasthan in 2001. From there, we opened plants at the same location in 2004, 2007, 2011, and 2016 and consolidated other factories in Bhiwadi.

In 2000, Ajanta Chemical Industries won the ARCH of EUROPE award at Paris, France for its superior quality and performance. Now Ajanta Chemical Industries has handed over the business baton to its third generation.

Indusfood-Chem: What are the key product categories you cater to? And what are the major end use sectors where you are witnessing good demand for your products?
AB: Ajanta Colours shows its proficiency in supplying colours that are pre-packed into distinct weighed packs, which are engineered for direct use. The end use sectors that we presently cater to include confectionary, bakery products, dairy products, desserts, seasonings, beverages and pet foods. Right from food colours, lake colours, to the ones used in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, colours for animal feed, homecare products and personal care products, to that of natural and industrial colours, Ajanta can be considered a one-stop solution for all the industrial colouring needs.

Considering the safety of sea export and local transportation, Ajanta Colours makes use of the best quality material for packaging, which is available in many options. Our colours meet the specifications by BIS (Bureau of Indian Standard), JECFA (Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives) , CODEX , EUROPEAN Commission Regulation and FSSAI (Food Safety Standards Authority of India).

Whether it is primary colour or say basics as Ajanta tartrazine supra, Ajanta ponceau 4r supra, Ajanta sunset yellow FCF (dark) supra, Ajanta chocolate brown HT supra etc. or the blended colours i.e. mixtures siuch as Ajanta lemon yellow supra, Ajanta bright green supra, Ajanta black s supra, Ajanta raspberry red supra etc., we have a plethora of industrial colors in our basket to offer to our varied clientele.

Ajanta food colours are widely used in food applications for producing glaring and radiant colours. They change the entire spectrum of food colours ranging from powder to granules.

We are adaptable and versatile in supporting distributors and customers with expedient packing options with respect to weight and class of packing material. A large array of packing materials are at hand like plastic jars/drums, cardboard boxes, HDPE drums, paper bags, fibre drums etc. with various alternatives that vary from 50 gm, 0.50 (half) kg, 1kg, 5kg, 6kg, 10kg, 25kg etc.

Taking the safety and general availability into consideration, we use food colours for commercial food production, confectionery, domestic cooking, non-food applications including cosmetics, pharmaceuticals etc. As colour of food can influence the perceived flavour, we aim to tickle your taste buds by abiding to all health related rules and regulations.

Our products show superiority by exhibiting the following dispositions:-
• Provide exact natural variations in colour.
• Magnify colours that occur naturally
• Adding colours to colourless food items and make it more appealing and appetizing.

Indusfood-Chem:
How strong has been the role of the R&D for your business to be a success? Any major R&D/innovations that you might wish to share with us?
AB: For ensuring advanced product range with high quality, we, at Ajanta Colours, have been doing research and development, which has aided us in introducing and developing many products. Our indigenous technology employed in manufacturing helped us in providing:
• Reasonable prices
• Consistency in supreme quality
• Uniform supply and purity standards that meet regulatory requirements
• Technical support for customer needs
• Constant development of new products

We have set up ultra-modern laboratories, as a part of Ajanta’s Quality Initiative, led by its Chairperson Mr. S. D. Bhardwaj, who heads the Research and Development activities in the organization for last 51 years. We are also equipped with a bunch of skilled technicians, who thrive to meet quality control and try hard to improve the existing standards. Ajanta is perpetually toiling towards negating the gap between desired and achieved quality.

In the 70 years, immense contribution of expert staff, plants and machinery have supported us in producing food colours that meet global standards. This enabled us to export our products to nations across five continents of the globe. Our special focus on quality entitled us to get acceptance from the high quality international markets of America and Europe. The technologically superior manufacturing plants with high productivity enable us to produce food colours of supreme quality.

Indusfood-Chem: How do you plan to expand your business in the next five years? Will we shift to a complete natural journey?
AB: Today, we have four integrated plants, over seven decades of rich experience and serve six continents. We further plan to expand our wings in African and Chinese markets, majorly.

As far as shifting to natural colours is considered, it is quite difficult for the Indian colour industry to embark on a complete “natural” journey. It will increase the cost as the dosage is more, so the effective cost increases. Also, it has its own set of challenges pertaining to the quality, stability and shelf life.

Indusfood-Chem: How is the agro and food processing industry expected to grow in the future? What will be the drivers of the growth?
AB: The industry has a very bright chance. There are great lucrative opportunities enhancing the growth. However, there is a dire need to develop a conducive and encouraging environment with better investments making the Indian industry, in particular, competent enough with developed industries of South East and far east countries.

Indusfood-Chem: What has been the progress of your business on the export front and which are the main markets you have successfully penetrated? What are your future strategies to tap your potetial target markets?
AB: With a magnificent presence for more than seven decades, the Ajanta Group has manifested appreciable improvisation on methods and technologies in producing quality food colours. Cushioned by magnificent experience and performance, we have been recognized as a leading manufacturer and exporter of food colours based in India, and still we leap forward to achieve and perform more for clubbing Ajanta with food colours around the planet.

It was in 1976 when we started with an export of single colour dye i.e., indigo and that too limited to Japan. Subsequent to market slowdowns, it was in 1992, when we grabbed the opportunity to export our colours. USA used to be the world leader in food colours in the international market and I am glad to mention that we have ensured a dominant presence in the world market. Today, we export our products to nations across five continents of the globe. We have widely gained acceptance from the high-quality international markets of America and Europe also.

Today we are so competent in terms of quality, capacity and prices that we can definitely export our products to even China which can be a huge market for us. In fact we are exporting few lots to China. We would like to tap the African markets as well.

Indusfood-Chem: How do you see Indusfood-Chem as a platform for the growth of the industry?
AB: We are participating in Indusfood-Chem 2020 in association with TPCI and we are thankful to DOC and the Council to provide us this opportunity to showcase our products at such a global platform. We look forward to source new buyers from the platform. I see Indusfood-Chem as a mega event for the entire food and beverage industry. We look for long term associations with the show.