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By TPCI | November 8, 2019

Bikaji is a globally well-known snacks brand with a plethora of achievements to its credit, which have won it the love of customers across the globe. The company was the first to bring automated packaging. It also introduced stylish packaging in 1990s that gave traditional namkeen the muscle to match the funkiness of western chips and wafers way back in the 1990s.

Founded in 1987, Bikaji Foods International Ltd. (formerly Shivdeep Industries Ltd.) was incepted by Shri Shivratan Agarwal. Today, Bikaji is a leading global FMCG brand across its core product lines of Bhujia, Namkeen, Papad, Snacks and Sweets.

Mr. Deepak Aggarwal, Director, Bikaji Foods International and part of the second generation of the founding family, unveils his plans for venturing into the western snacks segment in a big way and even supplying milk-based products like Chamcham, Rasgulla and Raj Bhog in Europe. Following are few excerpts from the interview:

IndusFood: What was the inspiration behind the brand Bikaji when it was founded in 1987? How did the business launch and evolve in the initial years?
Deepak Aggarwal: It was my father’s childhood dream to bring system and order into this large
unorganized sector. It was launched in order to bring a new brand in the organized sector and separate from the shadows of Haldiram.

Bikaji is responsible for changing the face of the Indian Namkeen industry while retaining the centuries-old taste and flavour. Bikaji was the first to bring automated packaging and the first to introduce stylish packaging that allowed the traditional namkeen to match the funkiness of western chips and wafers.

IndusFood: What were the major challenges to growth and expansion of the business and how did you meet them?
DA: The major challenges were the geography (of the city Bikaner) and the initial mind-set and thought process of people regarding the establishment related to products like Bhujia. Industrial working, labour expertise etc. were some of the major missing elements. I personally learnt to manufacture bhujia, rasgulla, mixture namkeen etc. and further identified the right people and resources to make them learn and manufacture on the large scale.

IndusFood: The brand is a leading player in the sweets and snacks business, today. What transformational changes has the business undergone, since its inception in terms of product portfolio/innovations, reach, brand equity, etc.
DA: Bikaji has changed itself time and again as per market, customer and industry needs. Today we have Mr. Amitabh Bachachan as Brand Ambassdor, a new state-of-the-art unit in Karni industrial (Bikaner) as well as company-owned retail outlets in Mumbai and various cities of India.

Bikaji has not only worked on product quality and taste but aggressively worked to create new & attractive packaging, designs, concepts and venturing into new form of businesses like modern trade, e-commerce and B2B trade.

Major players like Lighthouse, Avendus, Axis, India Infoline and Intensive Fiscal Services have taken equity in the company. It has given us an edge over other competitors for expansion and R&D. In 2020, we are also coming up with an Initial Public Offerings (IPO). Our media and advertising strategies have always been aggressive and attractive, ensuring that the brand and product are presented in the right light. We are using all the major advertising/media channels in an effective and strategic way. 

IndusFood: How has the brand progressed on the international front? What are the key markets you are targeting for your products?
DA: Indians are present in every part of the world. They crave for Indian ethnic namkeens and sweets. Bikaji has always leveraged on the need and introduced our current portfolio and frozen category in the international market. US, Canada, Gulf, Middle East, Singapore etc. are the main markets. Currently we have footprints in almost 32 countries. Western snacks category will also be new focus.

IndusFood: How do you see the growth in the food and agro processing industry from India both in general and within the snacks segment? How is it expected to reflect on the exports front?
DA: Growth is always there, especially in the packed food and snacks category. Today’s lifestyle is always on the go. A packet in hand is a need. Exports will automatically grow because people are interested in tasting the cross-country products.

IndusFood: How do you plan to expand in the near future?
DA: We are working on expanding our western snack category. Plans to set up new manufacturing units are also in pipeline. Extruder products as Hummus chips, Lentil chips, Lavas chips, Nachos etc. are a few products we are planning to diverse into. We also have plans to open contract manufacturing plants in Bengal and West Bengal. We are also looking forward to put our own international overseas plants for manufacturing of milk products as Rasgulla, Raj Bhog, Chamcham etc. in strategic regions like Europe.

IndusFood: Have you participated in IndusFood earlier? Please share your experience. Is there any product 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?
DA: Yes, 2019. It was a great experience meeting the right kind of buyers and industry people. It gave us a focused approach and helped us to present our brand in the right way. Bikaji would also look forward to see and connect with international e-commerce brands like Ebay USA and other large chains at IndusFood this time. Brands like Amazon USA, Amazon Canada etc. have already opened theirs arms wide for Bikaji International.

Launch of Indusfood-Tech and Indusfood-Chem is a great move and initiative. It will help the entire food industry to also understand the technology and ingredients part of it.