Shubh Food Products manufactures and imports original, high-quality hing (asafoetida). While the company has been importing hing for more than 100 years, I started manufacturing it in 1999, and launched Naya Khazana Gold – a variety of hing that is rather mild and mostly used in the Maharashtrian belt of the country. As demand grew, we started manufacturing region-specific hing such as the stronger version preferred in South India and dana-hing for the North. Given that hing is a traditionally used ingredient in Indian cooking, our main target was the rural and semi-urban masses. Hence, the price is also reasonable. Today, we have a pan-India presence, thanks to a wide network of distributors.
What are the different kinds of hing produced by your company?
Most of the food practices in India are regional in nature, based on locally available products and ingredients, and, to an extent, infl uenced by religious restrictions on consumption of certain foods. Keeping this in mind, we offer different types, region-specific hing. Overall, we make 32 types of hing in various forms such as powder, lumps, granules and crystals. Naya Khazana Dana Hing is made from hing that has been imported from four different countries. It is unadulterated, chemical-free, and 100 percent natural.
Who are your customers?
We are exporting hing powder, hing paste and crystal hing to international markets such as Mexico, Dubai and Mauritius. Our customers are both the end-consumers and establishments that manufacture products such as papad and pickles, and catering companies. The response has been overwhelming, as our products maintain high quality and give value for money. We also offer private labelling and repacking services. We process hing powder according to our client requirements, and undertake repacking of the processed product.
What is average price range of your products and average monthly sales?
Our price ranges from Rs 400 to Rs 5,300 per kg (for 50 gm, 100 gm, 500 gm, and bulk packs for the pharma and masala industries). We manufacture 26 tonnes of hing powder monthly and import about 14 tonnes of raw hing from Kabul on a monthly basis. On an average, our sales are to the tune of about Rs 22 crore annually.
What is the USP of your offerings?
Our USP lies in the high-quality standards that we have being maintaining consistently. Our products are animal fat-free and absolutely unadulterated. We ensure complete quality control from processing to packing. Our transparent dealings help our clients understand the way our trade works.
What are the challenges in your business?
There is no doubt that every business has to deal with several challenges. We have ourshare too. One is of small-time companies that lure customers by offering them lower price hing, but the hing is adulterated. We try and educate our customers about such practices and the long-term adverse effects of consuming it. Another challenge for us has been to educate the masses about this product’s cooking and health benefits. Also,ensuring that the region-specific hing that we manufacture meets the expectations of the different communities; this is not an easy task as we have to understand their culinary practices very well.
What are your retail activities and plans?
Currently, retail holds a very small percentage of our overall business, but we plan to build it up strongly soon. We are retailing our products through distributors in small cities such as Pune, Nagpur and Belgaum, and are, in fact, keen to set up an entire chain of stockists and distributors across the country. However, we have not yet met the right people to partner with. We hope to have things in place by Diwali this year. Of our average sales of around Rs 22 crore annually, retail contributes around Rs 3 to 4 crore, and the rest is generated from our export and repacking services.
What is your view on the hing industry in general?
The Indian hing industry is definitely growing rapidly. Just 12 to 15 years ago, there were hardly 7 or 8 hing businesses. But now, the is being exported in huge quantities. We are theoldest and largest importers of raw asafoetida in India.
What are your futue plans?
We are in the process of launching the world’s most expensive hing called White Collar Hing. This will mainly be sold to clients from the hospitality industry where the demand for very high-quality hing is large. White Collar Hing contains more than 30 percent raw hing, compared to regular hing that has around 15 percent of the raw material.
Apart from this, we are shifting our focus to another product that is not hing related. We are working on Spizzy, which is a flavoured food spray that will be available in different flavours such as garlic, and chilli powder.. So, if a prepared dish is lacking in spice, Spizzy can be sprayed on top of the dish to add the chilli flavour. This product will be launched in the market by January 2014. Our overall vision is to take the Indian spice industry to the best quality level where consumers can fi nd accessibiliy to the best brands, variety, good taste and convenience of use, thereby spreading the goodness and flavour of spices all over the world.