Food Marketing and Technology Magazine, India had an opportunity to interact with Raghav Gupta, MD Kanchan Metals. He opens up about his working in close quarter with his father and grand father and learning the the business threadbare practically. The company imports and manufactures an assortment of food processing machinery.

1. What is it like to be a part of a family business? What are the challenges you face as the company has its heritage and pre-existing management practises?

It’s a matter of great pride to be part of a family business. I have had the chance to learn from my father and grand father at very close quarters. The approach has always been to learn and build confidence before stepping into a role of decision making.

2. When you joined the business what were your priorities? How many of them have been realised over 11 years?

Honestly I don’t know what the priorities were. The idea was to basically work and grow the business as much as possible. There wasn’t a target in mind , it was just about doing what was needed to keep moving forward.

3. You provide ‘end-to-end solutions’ for the food business? Could you elaborate as to what you mean by this term?

What we mean is that we are in a position to offer a complete solution right from processing till packing for a particular product. While we specialise in certain key areas of the processing line we also offer products where we can cover the entire range of machines. For eg we recently supplied and commissioning a snack processing line to produce extruded snacks and pellets. We did the project end to end from raw material blending till packing of finished goods.

4. Machineries, do you manufacture them in India? What are their USPs?

It is totally application-oriented and a lot of customization happens as per customer needs. We do not have standard Catalogue machines but our focus has been on machines to produce traditional Indian namkeen and snacks. All machines are very specific to the need of the customer. It is our philosophy to understand the need of the customer and then put in that extra effort in the designing and execution of the machine. Each project is a partnership with the customer. Our team is highly skilled and there is much application knowledge that makes the mechanical engineering approach more practical.

5. Which are the machineries you import? From amongst all your machinery which is the star performer?

We import machinery for bakery , frozen foods , meat processing , traditional Indian snacks and sweets , Confectionery , Hygiene and packaging. At this moment we seem to be doing very well in the bakery and frozen foods segment.

6. How does the market relate to Make-in-India vis-a-vis imported machinery?

It depends on the application. For snacks and namkeen for example a lot of the machines have been idegenized and thus they outnumber imported solutions easily. However for other applications like western snacks like tortilla chips for example imported machinery is still the obvious choice as local options are not there. So you could say it all depends on the type of machine and product in question.

7. What is your assessment of the processed food market in India? What are going to be the trends in the coming years especially after the Covid disruption?

Close to 70% of homes in India rely on agriculture for their livelihood whereas we process less than 10% of our produce. This sums up the huge opportunity there is for processed foods in India. The trends are going to be more towards health / good for you snacking options and convenience foods.

8. You have food manufacturing plants as well. What were your thoughts behind this venture?

We have three plants. All are situated in Greater Noida, UP. Snack food and Indian namkeens are CMU for a large Indian company. Both these plants have large capacities and employ approx. 400 persons. The Plant and Machinery are best in class available globally and are totally automated with no / very less human intervention. Our processes /establishments are ISO 22000 certified and we employ highly skilled manpower. Our main strength is our technical capability and we employ close to 50 qualified Engineers for all our operations.

9. What is the learning from this business which allows you to understand food manufactures’ pain areas better?

I feel our philosophy has always been to partner our customers. We have had the good fortune of earning their trust and thus they have openly shared their pain areas with us seeking automation to improve productivity and consistency. We follow this approach to date and it seems to be working for us.

10. We are living in the Coivd era thus companies are revisiting their growth projections and expansions? What is your vision for the coming years?

We wish to consolidate further on existing business verticals and at the same time we are working on some new projects too. The aim is to keep growing at 20% ++ figures each year.

11. How did Covid affect your business and what is your learning from it?

Pandemic has forced innovations, new ideas. Our effort of E-marketing was started just before the Pandemic and we had just created our in- house team. The pandemic situation gave a fillip to augment E-marketing efforts and our team responded to it in a highly spirited manner and did a lot of new initiatives and out of Box approach. This helped us to increase our sales. In fact, 20-21 has been the best year for Equipment marketing ever in the history of our such activity.

12. What is your message to food start-ups?

The Indian food start-up ecosystem is seeing a massive boom. To run a successful start-up in this industry, adaption to rapidly changing market situations is a must along with being agile and flexible.