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    “We will add middle class to our market share”

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    (HIL), Himachal Pradesh-based Indian food processing giant, has recently signed an agreement with the Germany-based grocery retail chain ALDI to sell its products in the US under the brand name ‘Himalya Fresh’. In an exclusive interview with Indiaretailing, , chairman, HIL, shares his thoughts, visions, achievements and targets of his company from this JV. Excerpts:

    IR: Does it not go against the grain to go in for a tie-up with a global retailer in times of an economic slowdown?
    MM: Even when there are negetive cues to economy, food retailing does not suffer much as food is an unavoidable necessity. Americans used to spend around USD 7-8 for their lunch in retaurants. However under the prevailing circumstances, they have cut down their food expenses by not eating in restaurants, but by taking what they call a ‘brown bag lunch’, which is like ‘tiffin’ in India. ‘Brown bag lunch’with ready to eat food is available for 3 dollars or 3.5 dollars. Here, our products will be a good option for them.

    IR: Who are your target customers in the US?
    MM: Mainly institutional clients, who use frozen ingredients to prepare ready-to-eat food. Also those who sell in the food courts.

    Further, ALDI is not a very expensive store and it caters to the middle-class. With this new tie-up , we will add the middle class to our market share.

    IR: What is the reason behind choosing ALDI as your retail partner?
    MM: ALDI, a worldwide food retail chain, already has 1000 stores in the US enjoying a wide reach in the country. Also the company has further expansion plans in the country.

    IR: Won’t it be expensive sending products from India to the US?
    MM: Definitely not. We have been sending our products to the US for 13 years. We use reefer containers which is quite economical.

    IR: What about ALDI’s entry to the Indian market through Himalya?
    MM: India is a burgeoning market with huge potential. We might think of opening ALDI’s stores in India, at a later date, subject to government policies.

    IR: How much revenue is Himalya expecting from this JV?
    MM: This being the first year, we expect business worth USD 3 million, taking our overseas business size to USD 12 million.

    IR: What are your future plans?
    MM: Well, we are expanding in Gujarat, because the government there is very dynamic. thanks to the government, Gujarat is a very industry friendly state and we plan to fully make sue of their liberal policies.