In an interaction with Restaurant India, Maneet Pal Singh, Vice President, Wiser Foods shares how he started the business of importing BASA fish by becoming one of the largest importers today.
Tell us something about your company? How long has your company been in the business?
We started in 2012 from Delhi-NCR as the importers of BASA fish moving forward to Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh markets. Soon after that we started dealing with the Punjab market and opened our second office in Ludhiana, Punjab. By early 2013 we covered almost 40 percent of the market in Punjab. From Ludhiana, we started catering Jammu, Himachal Pradesh and other nearby markets. We also opened our third office in Mumbai to deal with the southern and western part of the country. Last year we started operations in Calcutta, Bangalore and other corners of India. We are the second largest importers and suppliers of BASA and have 90-95 per cent of PAN India presence.
What packaging techniques do you use to preserve freshness and purity of fishes that you supply?
The packages we are using are the normal plastic package but the technique we are using is IQF (Individual Quick Freezing). As soon as the product is processed, it goes through the IQF individually and we maintain it at 18 to -20 degree centigrade which can be preserved up to two years.
How do you get your payments? What are the return policies at your end? Do you have online shopping available?
No we are not available online. If you are maintaining at the desired temperature of the product at your end then it can be preserved up to two years so we hardly get any return from our clients. Moreover if there is any fault from our side we take them back but the chances remains none as our product go through several quality checks. We are dealing with our distributors on with a 21 days payment policy through cheque.
How do you decide pricing for the Indian market?
India is a very competitive market. We are amongst top players in this segment so the margin remains low and there is not much fluctuation in the prices and they are to be kept very competitive.
From where do you source the products?
We source BASA fish from Mekong Delta, Vietnam. And we have also tied up with some factories in the city that are producing for us.
What is the supply chain process at your end?
We supply our product through the distributors’ network that is present all over India. We have around seven distributors in Delhi who purchase products from us and store it at their end only by supplying our products to the leading hotels, restaurants and cater on our behalf.
Brief us about your products and name some of your clients?
We are the top importers suppliers of BASA fish fillet in India. Our products are BASA fish fillet, breaded BASA fish fillet, untrimmed BASA fish fillet, Squid rings, frozen prawns and chicken. We also launched spring roll pastry last year and this year we launched Australian lamb. We are supplying to all the major hotels, five star chains, restaurant, cafes, caterers, MNCs and retail outlets. JW Marriott, Smokey’s, Smoke House Deli, Trident Hotel are our major clients.
What do you want to say about the import laws imposed by the government? Are they too stringent to follow?
They are actually quite stringent as we don’t get full information communicated to us. We are an active member of forums of Indian food importers (FIFI) which is assigned to communicate FIFI about any new law introduced by them but they are not keen to make anyone understand about the same and there is no one to communicate about the same. So it gets difficult for us to understand what the new laws are exactly about.
What are your branding, marketing and expansion activities?
We are presently working under our own brand but we are looking forward to launch international brands soon. The Indonesian confectionary brand will be with us for selling their product all over India. We are going to enter the ready to eat products which we will launch next year. We will be getting more into retail products, smaller packing and ready to eat products. Lastly, we have started our operations in Calcutta, Bangalore and other corners of India.