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INTERVIEW

“Manufacturers must focus on educating consumers to break perceptions”
Monday, 05 November, 2018, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Gits Food Products Pvt Ltd, a pioneer in introduction of instant mixes in the country, is among the first food product manufacturing companies in India to obtain ISO 9001-2008 (quality standard) and ISO 22000 (food safety).

Distributed widely across India and exported to over 40 countries, Gits products include instant mixes (ready-to-cook), ready meals (ready-to-eat) and dairy products.

Sahil Gilani, director, sales and marketing, Gits Food Products Pvt Ltd, in an e-mail interaction with Anurag More, throws light on the ready-to-eat market in India.

What is the size of the ready-to-eat market in India?
The ready-to-eat (RTE) market, comprising instant mixes and ready meals, is worth over Rs 1,000 crore.
 
Will retail sales suffer as economic prospects improve and consumers move back to eating out rather than eating at home?
I don’t foresee restaurants replacing home-cooked meals. Restaurants are a luxury and visited occasionally, the unique selling proposition (USP) of RTE products is to enable homemakers to recreate a restaurant-like taste in their kitchens.
 
How are manufacturers leveraging popular restaurant chains to help more austere consumers recreate a restaurant experience at home?
As economic prospects improve consumers don’t necessarily increase the frequency of their visits to restaurants but instead visit better/upmarket ones. This gives consumers access to a superior food experience made with fresh ingredients, cooked by expert chefs. This raises the bar of consumer expectations of food quality and taste, thereby pushing packaged food manufactures to strive harder.

This is a positive for companies like ours that are quality-focussed. We use authentic recipes curated by the best chefs and ingredients. For example, we cook our Dal Makhani on the tandoor for over 10 hours, we source our Rajma from Jammu, etc. Many such quality parameters ensure that we deliver taste at par or better than the finest restaurants.
 
What are the changing trends that you have witnessed?
Health and convenience. At Gits we are already focussing our new product launches on these lines. We introduced a wholesome breakfast range last year, that will enrich our regular idli, dosa and dhokla with superfoods such as flax seeds, brown rice, oats and ragi. Another launch on the convenience trend is an open-and-eat canned variant of our popular gulab jamun mix.
 
What are the drawbacks of ready-to-eat food?
Gits has always stood by its promise of being all-natural. We do not add any preservatives or monosodium glutamate (MSG) or artificial colours/flavours in our products. The only drawback RTE products face is consumer perceptions and the myth that all packaged foods are unhealthy.
 
What is the perception of the Indian consumers about ready-to-eat food?
Consumers perceive that RTE products contain preservatives and are unsafe. This is due to the lack of technological knowledge amongst consumers. Manufacturers need to focus on educating customers to break such perceptions so that the category can further grow.

Do you have any plans to launch new products?
We have launched 12 new products across the mixes, ready meals and dairy category over the past year. This year too, we will be launching more products within these categories.

What makes products offered by Gits different from its competitors?
Our research and development (R&D) has one clear motto: ”We won’t sell what we don’t relish”.

Hence, unless the product is the best tasting and safest to feed our own families, we won’t feed it to our customers either.

Our family business values go a long way to get us a competitive edge. We have never compromised on quality for the sake of discounting and profitability.

For example, in the instant mixes category, gulab jamun is the flagship product for most brands. Now, if you look at the festive season, most of the brands are operating on a buy one, get one free offer. Gits is one of the only companies that does not indulge in this.

Gulab jamun mixes have two main ingredients. One is skimmed milk and the other is maida (flour). Maida is cheap and skimmed milk is very expensive in comparison.

Now, if you change the proportion of these two ingredients, you can sell the mix at a cheaper rate.

However, Gits has kept the same high proportion of skimmed milk powder in its mixes since its inception!

Brief us about your expansion plans. How much will you be investing in it
We are in the process of doubling our manufacturing output for most of our product lines as well as upgrading machinery to adapt newer cutting-edge technology in food safety.

Currently, the investments are ongoing so we do not have a final number. However, it would be the largest expansion investment done by Gits to date.
 
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