A pro in the frozen food segment Al Kabeer is a widely known and a much celebrated label in Food industry .
What are the challenges in the frozen foods business?
The cold chain infrastructure is the biggest challenge for the Frozen Food Industry. We work jointly with our supply chain partners to understand issues and develop infrastructure for business. For our warehousing needs, we have tied up with national players who manage cold stores. We have installed data loggers to monitor storage temperature at our warehouses. Primary logistics is outsourced to reputed operators of refrigerated fleet. We have GPS enabled systems that allow us to keep a track of shipments and monitor temperature of shipped goods. From each warehouse, we despatch our products only through refrigerated vehicles.
What is the company’s USP?
We have extensive experience in product development We use the best ingredients. Our factories are ISO certified. We also design and develop foods that are custom made to requirement. We are known for our high quality standards. All our products are tested and monitored during production to ensure their quality and consistent good taste. We have very strict norms and all products undergo stringent QC checks from procurement, processing to packing, before reaching retail shelves.
In fact, one of the most important parts of maintaining quality is our Quality Assurance system to ensure that the food reaches the consumers in a healthy and unspoiled condition. Quality tools and techniques such as root cause analysis, risk management and mitigation, and employee engagement ensure higher product quality. We are also engaging with our suppliers, such as farmers and wholesalers, transporters and retailers to make sure that their quality procedures are also adequate.
Who would you rate amongst your competitors?
Our competitors are national brands like McCain’s, Venky’s, Yummiez and Sumeru. Apart from this, there are a host of regional players.
What were your marketing initiatives in the recent past?
Brand Al Kabeer has recently undergone a complete makeover. We have changed the brand design and packaging, which have been appreciated by consumers and the retailers. We have seen a sales growth of 18 percent post the introduction of the new packs.
We have a consumer activation plan that involves sampling at key outlets across the country. This is supported by visibility in select locations. Apart from driving trials, these interactions also help to educate the consumer about the myths of frozen foods. We have seen good conversions for Al Kabeer with this initiative. Frozen and packaged food makes sound business sense today, given the hectic lifestyles of the modern consumer.
What trends do your foresee in frozen products?
The Frozen Food industry is just beginning to grow. Key to business growth is distribution. Percolation of the frozen food range into the traditional retail format will ultimately drive growth of the category and its overall acceptance. A vital factor for all players would be to get reliable channel partners and the supply chain system right.
The top eight cities today contribute to three quarters of sales volume in frozen foods. The tier II cities are still largely untapped by a majority of players. Establishment of cold chain infrastructure would help to drive volumes over and above the organic growth in the existing markets.
The consumer needs to understand how and why frozen food is not only convenient, but also heathy and hygienic. It is also important to know how to store and prepare frozen food. Educating the consumer and the retailer is a vital aspect that all companies must realise and undertake. The modern trade format and the food retail business contribute to nearly 60 percent of our sales volumes. The balance is made up of sales to the general trade.
How are you catering to demand for vegetarian and healthier products?
India leads the world in vegetarian food consumption. Al Kabeer has a wide range of vegetarian products. In fact, we sell more of the vegetarian range by volume. When food is frozen with the right technique (rapid chilling), more than 90 percent of nutrition is preserved for duration of shelf life. When it is thawed or cooked, it retains its original freshness. In fact, fresh fruits and vegetables sitting around on supermarket shelves for a while start to lose some of their nutritional value just from exposure to air and light. When we make frozen foods, we snap freeze the product after blanching, and this preserves the vitamins, so the loss in nutrition is negligible!
What are your plans for growth and expansion?
We have been working closely with partners in the food retail business. Our R&D expertise gives us the ability to achieve quick turnaround for creating and developing customised solutions. We are already supplying raw mutton to select partners; developing solutions for flight catering; and we have more than ten products in the Institutional Pack format, which is suitable for the HoReCa segment.
Our strength is our Food Innovation and Development. We creating, refining and perfecting our recipes continuously. We are always on the lookout for new ideas and new types of food that will delight our consumers. We delve into consumer insights and use our experience in food R&D to develop new formulations. Our immediate aim is to look at refreshing atleast 10 percent of our product offerings every year. This would include new products, as well as significant improvement in our current formulations.
How strong is your dealer network?
We are present in more than 50 cities across the country. These are managed by sales offices in seven cities. We have a healthy share in modern trade, with our products present in all important chains. Along with modern trade, we are also improving our presence and visibility in traditional retail as well. We are working towards making products available to existing and new customers across different geographies, developing and strengthening our supply chain network, and building visibility for the brand across regions.
Present since 40 years in India, Al Kabeer (which means The Big One in Arabic), is considered a pioneer in the frozen foods industry. It is known for the superior quality and taste of its products, which include an extensive range of vegetarian and non-vegetarian products. The company produces and sells a variety of frozen foods, which fall under the raw as well as processed food segments. It is also a supplier to private label brands. Its product portfolio includes raw (green peas, sweet corn, mutton) range and processed foods (nuggets, sausages, samosas, kababs, parathas, fries, etc).
The company has a strong presence across the country and is supplying to more than 50 cities across both Modern and Traditional retail channels; it also caters to the food service sector. Al Kabeer products are exported to the Middle East, Africa and the United States, where products are customised as per the local requirements. The company also does private labelling for their oversea clients. Its production facilities in Mumbai and Hyderabad are ISO certified units, where a wide variety of processed foods including seafood, ready meals, meat and poultry, and snacks are produced.
The company with its focus on Quality and Innovation has set the benchmark in terms of food quality and taste. With its recent revamp and new tagline of ‘From Our Family To Yours’ currently has a portfolio of more than 50 products.