In an exclusive interview with Nipun Katiyal, the co-founder of the Brand Fizzy Food Labs.
FMCG is a big scale game. There are lots of problems involved in the initial business. Right from convincing vendors to getting the product placed in the market. Fizzy Food Labs, talks about their experience on how they started. Convincing the vendors to look at the long term strategies was one big task, followed by convincing retailers, especially modern trade retailers like Reliance Trends and Big Bazaar etc. was a challenge as typically any newer category that comes in doesn’t contribute to the sales that much but eat up all the space.
When did you start Chefs Basket?
We started in 2012. Varun and I both quit our jobs to come up with Chefs Basket. Officially the company was formulated in 2012 August with its first range of products introduced in 2013. Manish joined us a year later in 2013. So that is how the core team comprises of Varun, me and Manish.
How did the idea come up?
Love for food and passion towards making a brand is what really sparked it. We understood that there is very limited brand play happening in India. There are practically only 10 big players in the market at present. We travelled abroad. We used to see the number of brands that used to exist on their shell as compared to here. So, we saw over the next 10 years a lot of brand play is going to happen in India and we decided to choose the FMCG route in food space rather than the food service route.
What made you take the plunge?
Life was too comfortable. We thought we guys aren’t married; this is the right time to take the plunge. We both knew we wanted to do something in food space. It becomes extremely difficult to manage your business idea parallel, while doing your job. It took us almost a year to start the brand. The idea kept getting more refined with time and finally chef’s basket evolved in 2013.
Talk to us about Fizzy Food Labs?
Fizzy Food Labs is name of the company. We have two brands- ‘Chefs Basket’ launched in 2013 and ‘Colonel & Co.’ launched in November 2015. 'Colonel & Co.’ is new and is a snack segment that is priced at Rs 50 which includes nachos and salsa packed together in a tray. We have already become the number two player in the market of our second product and by the end of this year we are aiming to come at the top. As of today ‘Colonel and Company’ is present in almost 4k stores in Mumbai and Delhi and 1200 stores in Bengaluru.
What are the cuisines and offerings of Chef’s Basket?
It offers Italian, Oriental and Mexican cuisine. We have a range of pasta kit, thin crisp pizza kit, thai curry noodle kit, oriental Manchurian and schezwan noodle kit and in dessert tiramisu and chocolate trifle kit. The whole idea is to give customers a food kit with all different ingredients to cook themselves. It should on an average take about 10-15 mins.
What made you bring such cuisine to the Indian market?
Back in 2013, we started with two cuisines, Italian and Mexican. The number one cuisine in non-Indian space was Chinese. We didn’t want to do Chinese. So we did a little market research and found that the second cuisine that was growing was Italian and growth rate in Mexican was highest and thus we chose these cuisines.
What is the packaging technology you use?
Under fresh range we have refrigerated products like hummus, pesto, salsas and we use the MAP (Modified Atmospheric Packaging) technology. For sauces we use high quality retort. We do not add any preservatives whatsoever. We use the technology called retorting.
What do you base your huge success on?
I believe ‘innovation’ is the key to success. Innovation in product format and product type is what we aimed at. I think that is one big thing that was missing in categories we were playing in. It is extremely important for FMCG products to innovate. So any product we introduce going forward we would look to go into new category rather than being a part of existing category.
What are your expansion plans?
In India, we are targeting the top 18-20 cities over next 6-8 months and we are also planning to export to Middle East and South East-Asian markets. We are also exporting our second product 'Colonel & Co.’ to 4 golf countries this month.