-B Swaminathan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
According to research, India’s frozen food market is projected to grow at a CAGR of around 15%, during 2016-2021, due to the increasing popularity of ready-to-eat packaged foods. More households in urban India have been associating ready-to-eat food with convenience. Rising disposable income and younger demography of households in the top metros also mean that over the next two years consumption will surge across categories of packaged food such as Frozen foods, ‘Ready-to-Cook’ and ‘Ready-to-Eat’, and urban households account for 80 percent of these purchases.
Sumeru Foods, a brand from Innovative foods is a pioneer and market leader in the frozen food space is paying attention to consumer demands and all set to disrupt the market. Ravindranath D Chatterjee, DGM – Head R & D – Innovative Foods,( The company that owns the brand ‘Sumeru’) speaks on the company’s expansion plans. Edited excerpts.
Which are the most important occupational issues faced by Indian Chefs in the industrial kitchens?
For Indian chefs the transition and understanding of the difference between conventional kitchens and Food Processing kitchens take time. The processes and protocols are very different, dishes are deconstructed and prepared in separate stages with lab precision formulations and then assembled together in different proportions to maintain and ensure standardization.
According to you, what are the key trends you notice in the packaged food sector?
The packaged food sector has witnessed an unprecedented evolution thanks to the advent of the new technologies in Food preservation, which in turn has led to thinking out of the box and innovative food concepts. The trend I notice is moving towards providing solutions catering to ethnic cuisines and comfort food and also a major emphasis on providing healthy solutions especially in the comfort or snacking foods category. This has led to coming up with innovative alternatives that entail healthier cooking modes like baking, and more.
What are the unique aspects of your products and what are the efforts you take to ensure the quality of food is not compromised
Sumeru products are made out of the best quality raw materials (RM) sourced from domain-specific industry leaders. Their products are 100 % compliant with the regulatory needs as specified by FSSAI. Moreover, serving to some of the world’s best QSR chains over decades is a testament in itself, as they have laid some of the most stringent Food Safety protocols. Sumeru has all the top quality and Food Safety standard Certifications in place to ensure quality and safety in every product we proudly deliver.
How do you see the constant fluctuation of the price of food raw materials and how are you ensuring it does not impact the quality of the food?
We tie-up with suppliers on an annual contract basis, which helps keep the prices locked and stable. , Of course, we have to be prepared to combat market volatility and understand that these are part of the unpredictable nature of business and is unavoidable. But our focus is on delivering quality and so despite market conditions, we ensure that prices don’t affect the quality of food that we process.
What type of challenges do you face when it comes to using equipment for production and processing?
There is a world of a difference when it comes to f equipment being used in a conventional catering set up from the ones being used in Food Processing factories, as they have been customized to the specific function. The only challenge is to understand the basic science and technology behind the processing machinery and being able to calibrate the same to suit the product and extract the desired result from it, and this definitely takes time. But training and hands-on practical experience help our experts make that transition easily.
What plans do you have For introducing new menus and expansion or modification of the kitchens
The idea is to provide new concepts and provide our consumers with great flavour, and convenience that enhances the overall experience of consuming food: making it enjoyable, affordable and ready for more. As a classic case, take instant noodles: the reason it has seen so much of success as a category is because of the convenience it offers right from storage to instant cooking within few minutes (2 minutes as they advertise) along with a good sensory experience that appeals to different palates.
On the Expansion, the plan is to add new capabilities for baking solutions in our arsenal as a product solution provider, which will further widen the horizon of our offerings beyond breaded products, gravies and traditional bread.
What are the new products you are planning to launch?
Apart from concepts in the frozen category, we are also looking to expand the scope in ambient and chilled product categories, as these products have better visibility and help enhance brand outreach and further establishing brand recall. Also as an organization, we are trying to diversify our offerings and position the brand in every segment which will further create greater brand value and strengthen Sumeru as the undisputed leader in the frozen foods category in India.
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