From running a large packaging company to producing breakfast foods, has been a big shift for Sanjeev Khemka. The mechanical engineer – turned – manufacturer of breakfast cereals and snacks spoke to Sri Krishna on his new venture, which within a span of six months has found its way on to the breakfast shelves of leading retailers and is sold under the brand name Murginns.
Q. What made you move into the food industry?
A: It is not only me, but the whole family. My father, my brothers, we shared a vision that we have to move into food because we always thought that we love eating food and we also enjoy cooking food.
Q. What made you take up breakfast cereals considering that there is already a big player like Kellogg’s?
A. We had been thinking of entering the food business with our own brand for a very long time, and we were looking at the right product to begin with.
As we saw it, breakfast cereal is one category that is growing and there is only one major player, Kellogg’s, and they are internationally the number one player in the market. So, we felt convinced about taking second place in this category. We thought we can give value to the consumer.
What makes the Murginns range of cereals unique and different from others is that it has taken utmost care to satisfy the eating habits that are part of the Indian psyche. The Murginns breakfast cereals are equally good when taken with cold or hot milk, unlike other products that can only be consumed with cold milk.
Q. You have recently launched breakfast cereals in four variants – Choko Poko, Honey Pops, Honey Rings and Porridge. What are you future plans in this category of cereals?
A. Besides these breakfast cereals, our cornflakes will be launched in the first week of January. Although breakfast cereal is a slow-growth item in terms of diversification, we thought we should enter into snacks and that is the reason we began manufacturing the CTIX brand name in two variants.
Q. What are your other plans in the area of snacks?
A. We are planning to spread into six variants of flavours in the next few months. We felt that instead of going into namkeen and savouries, we should go for wafer roll sticks and launched them filled with cocoa and strawberry cream. These are now available in 12 states across India, and we will go pan-India by March next year.
As of now, our products are available in about 20,000 outlets. We will be in 100,000 outlets by March next year.
Besides the wafer roll sticks, we are planning to go in for toasted snacks, which would be the first of its kind in the country.
At the moment you get fried snacks or roasted snacks, which contain oil as you put in a lot of fat and roast them. In our toasted snack, there will be no oil or fat, and it would be really good for health-conscious people and for those who cannot consume oily food or snacks.
Q. How do you plan to go about making such snacks?
A. This was precisely the reason why we thought that there is need to introduce some new technology. We imported most of our machines from France, Italy and Germany, and set up a state-of-the-art plant at Paonta Sahib in Himachal Pradesh. There, we have our own in-house research and development centre, and an installed capacity of 500 tonnes per month, which can be enhanced without making any substantial investment.
What we want to create is a brand that will offer the best food products in the country. We know at the moment we cannot be the biggest food company. It is a big dream, and it is going to take a long time.
Q. How do you supply your products to so many outlets? Do you have an arrangement with any particular transport company?
A. Since we are a packaging company, we have our arrangements to deliver our products to the stockists, who deliver the same to our clients including big retailers like Big Bazaar.
Q. What else is in store for the future?
A. We have a number of products in the pipeline which we plan to market internationally in European and Southeast Asian markets. In terms of diversifying, we are examining other lines of operation in the food sector to increase our basket of offering to the consumer.
In the next four years, we are looking at a business volume of about Rs 200 crore: Rs 100 crore each from cereals and snacks food segments. We are aiming to grab 20 per cent share of this market, which is growing at the rate of at least 30 per cent every year.