In an interaction with Restaurant India, Satyajit Roy, MD & CEO of Everyday Gourmet Kitchen (EGK) Foods Pvt. Ltd shares about his idea of starting fried onion selling start up.
Tell us something about EGK Fresh Fried Onions. What was the whole idea coming up with this concept?
The concept for EGK Fresh Fried Onions was born out of our kitchen at home. Being from a Bengali family, our weekly sinful indulgence has been mutton biryani on Sundays. Sundays mornings were a tearful affair in this house! Seeing the amount of effort going into chopping, peeling and frying onions one such Sunday morning, not to mention the tears shed, it suddenly struck us that we could be getting our fried onions from the markets directly. A quick Google search revealed that no such product existed in the market. We look at EGK Fresh Fried Onions as a product that is similar to Tomato Puree. If we can eliminate the effort and maintain the quality and taste of the final product at a competitive price no one would be frying their own onions anymore. On further research we found that the amount of onions grown in India, and especially Maharashtra, was phenomenal, but what we found even more astounding was how much of that produce was wasted every year. Also as the farmers were not able to sell their produce, there were a significant number of farmer suicides happening. We thought that with our Fresh Fried Onions we had a chance to work on and try and solve this three pronged issue.
Tell us about your operations in the market (no. of distributors, retail presence, and city)?
Currently, we are present in two cities - Mumbai and Hyderabad. In Hyderabad, we have a B2B presence where we sell almost 8-12 MT of Fresh Fried Onions every month. In Mumbai, along with a strong B2B presence we have a small retail presence mostly in South Mumbai and at all Godrej Natures Baskets across the city. We operate through our distributors of which we have 4 currently.
How do you see the demand of this product in the country?
Over the past 12-18 months we have seen a great rate of adoption for fresh fried onions. Where earlier, most caterers and restaurants were reluctant to shift from frying their own onions, once they have used our product they have realized that not only does it save time and effort, but also money and labour, the last of which has helped them make their kitchen operations more efficient.
Food processing is one of the biggest contributors in Indian economy. How do you see the state of food processing in India?
India produces an abundance of different crops and a lot of the crops are being wasted due to improper storage and logistical support. Over the next few years we will probably see a greater emphasis on food processing, storage and efficient production. Building out the infrastructure to make sure that we are geared for the future in one of the most important tasks ahead of us, but with mass penetration of the internet we are able to see, adopt and more importantly innovate new age solutions to these age old problems.
Tell us about your presence in ready to eat and ready to cook food segment?
EGK Fresh Fried Onions are used predominantly in two ways- to reduce the cooking time in all kitchens especially where Indian Food is made. Eighty five percent of all onions in India are fried. Because the onions are not in gravy form you are able to control the texture of your finished curry / gravy.
Eaten directly as a snack / added as a garnish. Because of the crunchy texture and tasty nature of EGK Fresh Fried Onions we have people who prefer to eat it directly or use it as a condiment with any Indian food.
We have seen that it is one of the top most growing sectors in India today. How are you marketing your brand right to the customers?
Currently, we are marketing ourselves majorly through Offline means. Since, we are targeting mostly the HORECA segment we do a lot of trade shows, national and International. In a couple of months we will be making a push for pan India retail presence through modern retail and e-commerce, at which point we will try and employ some new age marketing techniques.
You have also tied up with local farmers to get the fresh produce. What was the idea?
Since, there is so much yield wastage due to volatile markets we found that tying up directly with farmers would help us stabilize our prices as well as offer the farmers fair prices for their produce on a yearly basis. It ensures that the farmers are given a fair price for their efforts and the peace of mind of not having to worry if their produce will sell.
Who are some of your top clients? Are you looking at HORECA as segment?
Currently, we are targeting the HORECA segment. As the volumes are so large we find that we can add most value in these large commercial kitchens where time is extremely important.
What trend do you see growing in the industry?
We see a market trend that lays a heavy emphasis on reduction in yield wastage as well as adopting new age food processing and storage techniques. As there is an abundance of produce here in India, it seems that the first issues that we need to tackle are those of proper storage and processing so that wastage is reduced.
What is your expansion plan?
Our current expansion plan is to get a strong Pan - India presence for which we are looking to partner with distributors, whether they are in the HORECA (B2B) category or now even retail and modern retail. We hope to have a strong e-commerce within six months leveraging the growing presence of Amazon and Flipkart in India along with the continued exponential internet penetration that is going through this country.