Brands who are creating healthier and tastier foods, like Gulabs does, have kept in mind the fast paced life…

Mr. Naveen Bhandari, MD, Gulabs, interacted with Sagrika Sanjay of Food Marketing & Technology India to share the snacking trend through their product and concept.

1 Gulabs snacks compliment beverages. Was your partnering with Madras Coffee House a tactical move to take advantage of the same?

We at Gulabs associate with brands that are synonymous with the product quality and belief that we carry, and one such brand is Madras Coffee House. Gulabs snacks can be had individually and form perfect coffee/tea time snacks.

2 What is your idea of new, different and ‘healthier’ food?

Consumers today are well aware of the contents of the products they are consuming, thanks to the information age brought on by the digital world. One more reason for this awareness on health is due to globetrotting consumers. India has a rich history of food, and the products that we used to consume earlier were well thought of way back then; it’s just that we missed bringing it out inthe limelight then. We are now attempting to do the same (to bring back the same age old recipes in a new avatar), and one such item is KHAKHRA which is roasted rather than fried, which itself says it all.

3 Describe the snacking trend in India. How is the Indian market for snacks doing at the moment?

India and Indians are undergoing a metamorphic change in the consumption of products. The Indian palette is now inclined towards health more than taste. This change will usher in a whole new breed of products focussing on this sector.

4 In the world of ‘grab and go’ food, how is India responding to this new concept?

Brands who are creating healthier and tastier foods, like Gulabs does, have kept in mind the fast paced life and, thus, created special packaging models to keep up with this trend.

One such example is our regular khakhra; it’s more of a table or travel food which is to be consumed at leisure. The same product, but in a tinier version, has been created for the Indians on the move. It’s a pocket sized product which is largely consumed during travel, etc. Product preparation and methodology remains the same.

5 Can you explain how the use of ethnic ingredients (besan, ajwain, paan, jeera, etc.) can create huge demand internationally?

India has a completely different set of ingredients for food preparation. We largely have a mixture of various raw materials involved whilst preparing the snack/food item, be it spices or grains, unlike in other countries. Now, in the era of healthy living, consumers overseas are looking at India and Indian food preparation methods and are adapting to it after careful research. Turmeric Latte, currently a huge rage worldwide, is one such example. Turmeric is largely an Indian based raw material and has been in use for generations. Now, this ingredient is being served across most coffee shops across the world and is also retailed across multiple stores as more people are becoming aware of its benefits and healthy properties.

6 How is the market for retail in India? What are the constraints?

Retail market in India is witnessing a boom. Various segments are being created to keep up with the pace of demands of the consumers. For example, the country is experiencing a growth of general stores, organic stores, vegan stores, etc. ? all catering to the new age demands of Indian consumers. However, many of these stores have yet to receive technological updates, and real estate prices continue to place large constraints on these stores to mushroom faster. In the xext 10 years, however, we will see more of retail whilst, simultaneously, the digital sector will see a boom and co-exist along with physical retail.

7 How do you maintain your product freshness and its shelf life? What is the major challenge when it comes to ensuring the safety of snacks?

We are clear and focussed on using minimal or zero additives in our products. Most of our items do not carry preservatives. For example, our khakhras, thandai, masalas, etc., have zero preservatives and zero colours. These are 100 percent natural and free of external agents.

We prefer to spend more in other types of packing such as vacuum packaging, and are now also experimenting with oxygen and moisture absorbers to help maintain product shelf life.

8 Who are your major clients in the market? How is the export market for your products?

Our major clients include Nuts And Spices, Gormei Market, Amazon, Natures Basket, Sree Krishnab Sweets, Chai Kings, Fruit Shop on Greams Road, Dorabjees, Neelam Stores, etc.

We haven’t yet started to export our products because India itself is a large market and we wish to cover the entire country first.

9 What is your bestseller and what is the success story behind the same?

Our best sellers are THANDAI, Rose Sharbat, Lemon Ginger Sharbat, Tea Masala, Ajwain and Methi Khakra. These products are doing well largely because of their taste and purity. Consistency in taste also plays a large role in repeat purchases by consumers.

10 You recently partnered with Godrej Nature’s Basket. What was the reason behind this partnership and what new can we expect out of this?

Nature’s Basket clearly has a similar range of consumers whom Gulabs compliments, and this partnership is a perfect example of a win-win situation for both brands. We create quality products and they have the right consumers who are quality conscious. Best of both brands requirements are, thus, being met.