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Interviews- Expert Speak

“RTC food segment has witnessed a surge in demand in the last few years”

Desai Brothers Limited (DBL), diversified into the Ethnic Food business in 2001. DBL has since then successfully expanded Mother’s Recipe to all regions in India as well as over 40 countries internationally. Sanjana Desai, executive director, Mother’s Recipe, and involved with the Food Division of DBL – and more specifically the brand – Mother’s Recipe.

What’s your take on the current trends in the industry particularly the ‘packaged instant food’ market, and ‘ready-to-cook’ (RTC) segment?

Ready-to-cook (RTC) food segment has witnessed a surge in demand in the last few years. The growth in the segment is driven by the increase in the convenience offered, in terms of time-saving, and the little effort and skill required for the preparation. Moreover, the preference for these meals by the working population and millennials has increased because they only require adding protein, easy cooking method,and it provides a restaurant-quality dish in minutes without any preservatives or artificial colours. Keeping our consumers as our priority we at Mother’s Recipe have introduced a wide array of RTC products, like Pav Bhaji mix, Chicken Tikka mix,Vegetable Biryani mix, etc. we also have regional specialties like chicken Chettinad, Malabar chicken curry, Goan fish curry which are quite popular. With our Ready-to-cook spice mixes we can cook a delicious meal in minutes, that is healthy as well as tasty for the entire family.

The current trends in the food industry are experimentation with cooking at home, healthier alternatives as well as exposure to new cuisines. There has also been a sudden rise in the adoption of premium products in the market. The increase is attributed to the growing availability of innovative and premium product offerings attracting consumers’ attention due to their functional superiority.

Could you explain the demand curve over the last 6-12 months and your company’s growth during the pandemic?
Over the past year, our growth has accelerated in the market due to higher demand and better availability. We have also launched new product extensions, in the Indian chutney range which includes variants like Sweet and spicy lemon chutney, Spicy Tomato chutney, Dhania Pudina chutney and panipuri chutney. We are targeting regional variants as well as Indian favourites and making our chutney with the best quality ingredients and lots of love. Our Chaat Chutney range is a staple in our house and adds great taste anytime.

We have introduced a new and exciting product range of Global Exotic sauces under our sub-brand ‘Recipe’. Our range is very attractive in nozzle pour bottles with exotic flavours like garlic chilli sauce, periperi sauce and sriracha sauce. We also have Indian Chinese favorites like green chilli, soya sauce and red chilli sauce. Our star desi favourite is our Desi Szechwan chuney. All our sauces and Szechwan chutney are made without any MSG. Most of the brands available use MSG and aren’t the best for your family.

During the pandemic, we witnessed a significant rise in consumption of our products as most households preferred to cook at home. Moreover, there was a significant rise in online sales. Apart from our shopping website, we have also partnered with all major e-commerce players, including Flipkart, Big Basket, Milkbasket, Grofers, and others. As a brand, we aim to strike a fine balance between the demand-supply on both offline and online platforms.

What are the challenges you see for growth for the branded, packaged food business in the current situation, particularly in the context of healthier demand of consumers and your new products?

The increasing incidences of ailments have prompted consumers to bring about vital changes in their diet and lifestyle, making them more health-conscious than ever. Automatically, the train of thought is diverted towards purchasing foods without added preservatives that might hamper one’s health. The demand for products that do not carry the ‘healthy’ label is then bound to reduce, and to stay at the top, the need to eliminate artificial constituents from products has come to the fore as one of the major challenges faced by food and beverage managers.

Most of the branded players in the market may or may not have Class II preservatives. At Mother’s Recipe, we guarantee our consumers that all our products are free from Class II preservatives and artificial colours and cater to a regional taste palette with healthier offerings.

How are you incorporating hygiene and safety measures, which are very crucial for food safety? Elaborate.
We aim to cater to changing demands and curate quality products with originality. We ensure that only the best ingredients and high standards of manufacturing are used for making the products. We do follow stringent, hygienic standards and strict quality control procedures that are implemented at various stages of processing to ensure the best quality of products without any preservatives. While purchasing raw materials such as fruits, vegetables, and spices, great emphasis is placed on quality to make sure authentic taste, which we promise to our customers. Our manufacturing plant in India has been certified under ISO 9001-2008 and ISO 22000-2005 (HACCP), and Kosher and also registered with US FDA, Spice Board of India and Export Inspection Council ensuring the best quality goes out to all our customers.

Tell us more about the Recipe brand and the new categories introduced under it.
Our sub-brand called ‘Recipe’ specialises in global cuisine suited for our Indian palate. The first category which we had introduced under the Recipe brand was Global Exotic sauces for a wide range of culinary experimentation. We aim to provide our consumers with the freedom and versatility of cooking and experimentation with everyday food at home. This new range is currently available in Red Chili, Green Chili, Garlic Chilli Sauce, Soya bean, Chilli Vinegar, and Sriracha Sauce with no added MSG and no artificial colours. We have ensured that the new product range is pocket friendly and enables convenient cooking for our young generation who are open to experimenting with new cuisines. The striking feature of this new range is the ‘’Twisty Nozzle,’ which is easy to use, and has stylish, contemporary, and consumer-friendly packaging.

We also have the most loved Desi Szechwan in this category that tastes fantastic & is made without any MSG and no artificial colours.

Finally, what are the expansion plans of your company for the future growth?
We will be focusing on strengthening our product category by introducing new and innovative variants.We have launched new products catering to global demand and changing food palettes and preferences with younger audiences. Early this year we had launched ‘Global Exotic Sauces’ under our sub-brand ‘Recipe’. We also have plans to expand our sauce category to ensure that our customers use safer products made with quality ingredients in the most hygienic way and continue to experiment with fusion cuisine at home.

Recently we have launched Mango Panna (seasonal) and a Lemon juice concentrate as a staple in households that caters to a larger set of consumers. The umbrella brand will cater to many categories and customer segments.

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