Co-founder & CEO, Fingerlix, Shree Bharambe talks about how his brand offerings aim to redefine packaged food in India with its broad array of fresh ‘almost-ready’ food solutions and ‘fully-ready’ accompaniments, and how these products help home-makers prepare fresh food with authentic ingredients in a jiffy.
What is the concept behind Fingerlix?
Fingerlix is a fresh, ready-to-cook food solutions brand targeted at today’s progressive homemakers. Fingerlix enables them to put a meal on the table within minutes and ensures that their families are served only fresh food prepared with authentic ingredients. It allows them to customize the dish as per the family’s taste and is also the perfect solution for all those who stay away from home. We launched the brand in Mumbai in May 2016.
What made you enter this segment?
Packaged food industry in India has evolved largely around high-shelf life products barring dairy and bakery items. Long shelf life almost always means either high level of preservatives and/or high level of processing. During our consulting work with some of the leading food companies in India, we realized that consumers are seeking fresh, preservative-free solutions to ease cooking. We decided to address the need gap with Fingerlix.
What are the products under your brand?
From fresh-ready-to-cook batters to parathas, curries and dals, Fingerlix ensures that all ingredients are fresh and authentic and the food that one finally consumes is at par with home-cooked food. Our primary target audience are home-makers (working as well as non-working) residing in Indian metros. These people are stretched for time and are seeking smart solutions to manage their multiple responsibilities.
What is chef Abhijit Berde role in the set-up?
Chef Abhijit is the chief architect of our products. He brings with him top Tier talent in the area of recipe development as well as the experience in setting up and running industrial scale kitchens. We have a very robust pipeline of new products, each of which is thoroughly researched internally as well as with consumers, before launching it.
Does your brand have any unique offerings?
Each of our products has unique strengths. For instance, the idli batter has been received very well by consumers – many have written to us about how they had given up on the hope of making light, fluffy idlis and crisp dosas until they tried the Fingerlix batter. A combination of select ingredients and a proprietary grinding method has resulted in a batter that is very light. The aloo paratha, a runaway success, has been lifted by the dash of amchoor in it.
We have recently launched three new, exciting products, viz., the multi-grain idli-dosa batter, biryani mix and whole wheat lachha paratha. People like the ease of cooking and variety in their daily meals and our three new launches add to this variety.
Do you have your own manufacturing or is it outsourced?
We make all our products in-house in our kitchen in Mumbai. We have set our facility along the lines of flight kitchens, which are known for their exemplary hygiene standards. All material is sourced locally from reputed vendors. As the products are free from preservatives, we have to chill (0-4 degrees celsius) them to preserve their freshness. We have established our own cold chain to distribute the products at chilled temperature to retail outlets.
What steps do you take to ensure quality, freshness and shelf life of your products?
A high level of hygiene at all points of the value chain and chilling the food to preserve its freshness are the two key factors that ensure the shelf life of our products. We are maniacal about temperature control and have mastered it for our products by setting up multiple experiments.
Please share your current presence across markets and various sales channels.
We cater to the Mumbai market at present. We are available to the consumers through two channels – retail outlets and our own app as well as call centre. In retail, we have tied with all leading retail brands like HyperCITY, Food Bazaar, DMart, Haiko, Star Bazaar, Godrej Nature’s Basket, Sahakari Bhandar, etc. We are also present in a restricted number of stand-alone retail outlets. The idea was to put the proposition and business model to the test. We are now embarking on an expansion within the city. We are also planning to expand to other cities. We do home deliveries of orders placed through our mobile apps, website and call centre. The home delivery facility is available only in Powai and Andheri East areas and will expand to other areas shortly.
What about the pricing strategy?
Fingerlix is very aff ordably priced between Rs 60 and Rs 150. All products serve a family of three to four, making it very economical for regular use.
How do you view competition from other players and how do you plan to deal with it?
Packaged fresh food is a nascent category in India. There are hardly any brands in this segment yet. Though we are certain many will emerge in the future. For the size of our country, it will take many players to do justice to the opportunity. We believe if we keep winning with the consumer, the competitive pressure will be well taken care of.
How do you plan to build up your presence?
We will shortly start expanding to other cities. In the medium term, our focus will remain on the top 10-15 metros. The opportunity is massive. Indian centre-of-the plate categories add up to $200 billion. However, these are mostly in the form of commodities. We expect an increasing shift towards value-added solutions. This shift will play out over decades, so we intend to build an organization with a broad and robust foundation.