From marketing to manufacturing, D’lecta Foods Pvt Ltd is moving ahead to create a stronghold in the dairy business by catering to both the retail and HoReCa sectors, informs Deepak Jain, Founder and Managing Director
Deepak Jain, Founder and Managing Director of D’lecta Foods, was earlier associated with Schreiber Dynamix Dairies Ltd to oversee the Dynamix ghee brand. After seven years in the company, he moved out to launch D’lecta Foods in 2003 as a distributor.
The first brand that his company took on board was Dynamix ghee. As its sole marketer and distributor, D’lecta not only established the Dynamix brand, but also created a market for Cow Ghee in India. Jain shares, “When we started marketing Dynamix in 2001, the ghee market (in organised trade) was dominated by buffalo ghee, which was more economical, whiter in color, and cow ghee had only 10 percent market share. Today, more than 70 percent of the ghee market is dominated by cow ghee! But we had to work hard to push cow ghee across retail channels, and have now been rewarded with a large base of customers who prefer cow ghee over buffalo.”
The company subsequently introduced UHT milk, Creamers, Cream and Cheese (in this order) in the retail market. All of these (except D’lecta Milke) continue to be outsourced from the dairy of Dynamix, but sell under the D’lecta brand name.
D’lecta products are premium quality, which, Jain says, justifies their higher pricing as compared to Amul or Britannia products. D’lecta’s major markets are Mumbai, Goa, Gujarat and Rajasthan, and the company is now focusing on the northern and southern markets, and hopes to go national one day. Though D’lecta products were launched for the retail sector, today, the brand’s higher revenues come from the HoReCa sector.
After eight years of distribution of dairy products, Jain decided to plunge into manufacturing. A five acre manufacturing plant was set up in 2009 at Khopoli in Maharashtra. The ISO 9000 certified plant operates three principle lines – creamers (for airlines and 5-star hotels), non-dairy whip toppings and egg powders (for bakeries), and tea/coffee powder premixes (for vending). A recent addition is ganache, a rich, dark chocolate topping.
Points out Jain, “We remain a marketing company at core, and continue to outsource a lot of quality products mainly from Indian suppliers, except for fruit fillings, which we import.”
The company’s R&D team innovates and creates new products followed by demos by an in-house chef at its kitchen in Goregaon in Mumbai. Jain informs that they take suggestions on trends and consumer preferences from many food experts. “Our biggest learning is that there is always room for innovation driven by consumer insights. For HoReCa, we customise as per the requirement, including our pack sizes. Our sales team gives us valuable insights on both the retail and HoReCa markets, and we improvise accordingly.”
D’lecta Milke is manufactured at their plant. Jain informs that the aseptic creamers are made from pure cow milk and do not have any sugar or preservatives. They are easy to use and come in individual portion sizes and are ideal for office, home, or travel.
For Jain, the challenge today is to create more visibility for D’lecta. “As a brand, we are relatively lesser known. Though our products are of very good quality, we cannot compete with established brands.”
Setting up a wide distribution network is another challenge. Though the company outsources transport and warehousing, their management is taken care of by the D’lecta team. “We manage transportation, warehousing and distribution of three different temperature product categories, and are doing it efficiently. Our distribution network is spread across almost all Indian cities that have a population of more than one million people.”
A challenge in retail, especially General Trade, is lack of adequate chiller/freezer space in retail stores. “Earlier, if a brand gave a mini cooler to the shopkeeper, it would entice him to stock the brand, but today, with shortage of space and so many brands, the shopkeeper is no longer lured by freebies as they would come with a monopoly clause.”
In Modern Trade, Jain feels that managing inventory is a big challenge. “Many times, the refrigerators are empty of products. In India, Modern Trade is still in its infancy, and we are all going through a learning process.”
D’lecta products are available at Reliance, D Mart, Hypercity, Tata Star, Nature’s Basket, Walmart, Easy day, Future Group, ABRL, etc, and in certain online stores. Comments Jain, “We want all our products to sell online as well, but first we have to ensure delivery and storage as most of the products are temperature sensitive.”
D’lecta Foods entered the OOH beverage category in January 2014 with the launch of vending machines for tea/coffee stations at offices, commercial institutes and industries. A separate company was formed under the name CAF5 Vending Solutions Private Limited, whose objective is to develop India specific beverage and food vending solutions at its manufacturing unit in Raigad.
D’lecta recently launched D’lecta Café to cater to the OOH beverage consumer, after two years of R&D. The compact kit has a thermopot that can prepare 50 cups of tea/coffee, and is ideal for companies that want individual tea stations at every department instead of a central vending machine or a pantry. The kit includes three varieties of premium tea, coffee sachets, coffee premix, liquid dairy creamers and consumables like sugar sticks, paper cups, paper napkins and stirrers, all of which can be stored in specially created slots.
Considered a leading name in the B2B dairy product segment, D’lecta Foods has plans to scale up its presence in the consumer segment and launch a slew of new products over the next 12 months. Products will include butter, mozzarella, natural cheddar, and cream cheese for the retail market, all of which are already available for institutional sales. Jain informs that, currently, the company offers more than 20 products that have been tried and tested across HoReCa, and he is confident that retail consumers will welcome them as well. The company is also strengthening its distribution channels and reinforcing its marketing initiatives.