“My experience tells me that if the product didn’t match the taste, we wouldn’t be in business, said Hitesh Ahuja, Co-Founder, Yumlane"
India is one of the top five markets for packaged foods in the world, and the second largest in Asia. British market research Company Euromonitor International expects that total sales of packaged food will increase by roughly seven per cent annually within the next five years. In the year 2020, packaged food sales will reach 47 million tonne. According to the forecasts of Euromonitor, India will become the third biggest market for packaged food in 2020, after China and the United States.
In conversation with Restaurant India at TIE Food Summit 2018, Hitesh Ahuja, Co-Founder, Yumlane, shares how they have grabbed every single opportunity in the snacking space and made it big in the business.
Yumlane operates in four cities—Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru and Hyderabad. “Instead of focusing on more cities, I think more of this year will be penetrating deeper and getting us ready for the next phase of growth,” Ahuja said.
The Heat & Eat Journey
The Indian middle class is growing and they simply love to buy and experiment with every new product hitting the market. With the modern India, and all of us getting exposed to more and more new cuisines and foods, the consumption is on the rise. Consumers’ changing dietary habits and willingness to try new things are pushing the numbers even higher. In addition, children are having more say in buying decisions.
Generally people have more disposable income to experiment with new foods. For us, Ahuja said,” We believe that catching on this trend was more important. While we started out doing multiple products, we tested out on various old and new foods and decided that the Indian consumers are used to pizzas in any meal of the day. So we thought of taking that out, making it more affordable with newer flavors and keep it as a convenient food in their homes without any preservatives.”
When it comes to snacking, however, Indian consumers have unique preferences and habits that retailers and manufacturers should understand to ensure success. Adding further he said,” There is a market where we tested and got results and since then the business has grown adding more cities in our kitty.”
Stand Out in the Crowd
Ready to eat meals came at a time when many consumers have traded down from restaurant meals in favor of retail prepared foods that require simple heating prior to eating. And a major influence on the longevity of this dining shift is the premium positioning of the many recent retail rollouts.
Commenting on the competition in the market, Ahuja mentioned,” We are creating a category of Heat & Eat in India which is very similar to what Maggie did with noodles way back in 1980’s. We also feel that consumers are ready for it as they are looking into more new ways to consume foods. So, both these things are marrying the timing and the concept. So factors like these make Yumlane a very unique startup in comparison to other market leaders.”
Keeping the Quality in Check
Consumers are becoming more aware of the importance of safe and high quality products. When we started out, Ahuja explained,” We always wanted to sell a good product and packet in a way that it is hygienic.
As young children, we have eaten enough street food, but the way things are and the way the next 10 years look like, it is hard to say that eating out on the streets will be considered as an alternative option.
“From a hygiene standpoint, our products are the same, but well packed, with no preservatives, keeping the product fresh for the consumers. We have been able to solve with our satisfaction a good product challenge, which gives us the confidence to talk about distribution, about building a brand, and so on”, added Ahuja.