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“We will add middle class to our market share”

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Himalya International Ltd (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, Manmohan Malik, 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 Narendra Modi government, Gujarat is a very industry friendly state and we plan to fully make sue of their liberal policies.

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