Shubh Food Products has carved a name for itself in the past 18 years. Starting off with a simple spice product Asafoetida (hing), the company now boasts of numerous private label products under its belt. Founder Gaurav Gambhir once delivered consignments to small food vendors himself but now oversees a strong bench of trained staff working for him. Progressive Grocer spoke to Gambhir about his company’s innovative breakthroughs in the spices and condiments category and what it takes to thrive in this competitive industry.
Tell us the journey you have undertaken with Shubh Foods.
I established Shubh Foods way back in 2000 when I was only 19 years old. One might say that Shubh and I have grown up together and strong over the years. From humble beginnings – a 300 sq. ft. basic manufacturing premise and a staff of just 2 contractual employees – Shubh today runs a 10,000 sq. ft. factory and plant with over 55 full-time staff members. We have received 30 percent investment from private equity channels whereas 70 percent of the investment is in my personal capacity. We began by manufacturing and supplying Asafoetida or hing to the local markets.
Shubh now has a broad range of products, including private labels in all forms of high quality hing, and a unique and innovative range of spice mixes under the brand name Tadka Blast. We also have our very own Naya Khazaana hing brand. Shubh is no longer limited to supplying to the local markets. We export to several countries. Within India, our private labeling clients include D-Mart, Reliance, Aditya Birla Group, Walmart, HyperCity and some of India’s leading pickle companies.
The journey from the year 2000 to 2018 and its successes could not have been easy. What are the challenges you faced that make Shubh the strong brand that it is today?
The biggest challenge we faced was building credibility and establishing trust within an industry that was and remains very rigid. Indian spices have been steady in terms of demand and product features for decades. However, my vision for Shubh was for it to be an innovative player that will help lead the industry into new directions and greater heights. While the business growth was steady in the hing manufacturing and supply vertical, we initially faced challenges such as winning large export orders for hing. Our newer products as Tadka Blast also faced initial skepticism within the local market. Being a pioneer and innovator in this industry can be a daunting task!
However, every time we hit a roadblock, we faced it with strong resolve, conviction and a single-minded drive toward excellence. We got our first major export order in 2005. We have constantly invested in improving ourselves. Beginning with installing a mini-chakki at our Bhandup premises in 2008 to the semi-automatic manufacturing plant at Bhiwandi today, Shubh has grown steadily despite all the challenges.
It must have been a major challenge to win over corporate giants such as Reliance, Aditya Birla Group, D-Mart, and Walmart for your private labeling offering. How did you achieve this?
I strongly believe that quality of the produce and service is essential for any successful business. Our clients are stalwarts in the Indian retail industry and will associate with a brand only if it is the best. In order to prove that Shubh is the best in the industry not just as a hing manufacturer but also as a manufacturer of other spice products, I let our products speak for themselves.
We are ISO 9001:2008 as well as FSSC 22000 certified – which essentially means we comply with ISO 22000 as well as US FDA standards. Our finished products are sampled by NABL accredited labs. As a testament to our superiority in the industry, Shubh won the National Award for Excellence in Quality and Business. Now, when we approach corporate giants to partner with us, they know Shubh is a name that they can trust and a name that stands for excellence and quality.
With so many popular brands vying for your private labeling offering, what is Shubh doing to ensure that supply commitments are met?
Shubh has always focused more on quality but that does not mean that we have ignored quantity! In fact, our history shows that Shubh has always stayed one step ahead of the demand. When I took up a 2,500 sq.ft. factory in 2010, it was not fully utilized until two years after we moved in. Today, we have a 10,000 sq.ft. plant, 55 employees, an automatic packaging system, an in-house testing lab and a committed R&D department. Our infrastructure is capable of meeting potential demand in the future. We are not only ready to meet the growing demands of quality assurance but also make sure that our business model is scalable to meet the potential future demand.
What does the future hold for Shubh?
Shubh Foods believes in being prepared for every contingency. We are very protective when it comes to our clients and the well-being of their business. We want our clients to grow with us.
We have been focusing on driving our brand in international markets, particularly in the Middle East. The masses there have fallen in love withour products and clients such as Al Adil (Dubai, UAE) and many more have become regular, happy clients. Our products are also being showcased at international airports across India and people can carry a taste of India wherever they go!
Shubh is planning the next phase of its expansion.We are already building our factory and moving toward 100 percent utilization of space. As the demand is growing, we are hiring more staff and upgrading our office infrastructure as well. In order to raise product awareness, Shubh is heavily promoting itself through digital and traditional marketing channels as well as social media.
All these measures are aimed at ensuring that we keep delivering the best services and products to our existing clients. 30 percent stake in the company has been handed over to a group of strong investors who are helping guide the company to reach a turnover of Rs 100 crore in the next three years. Hopefully, prospective clients will realize the massive business benefit they can attain by teaming up with a partner as reliable and committed to excellence as Shubh.