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INTERVIEW

“We are planning to introduce baked corn rings”
Monday, 23 September, 2013, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
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Balaji Wafers Pvt. Ltd, a well known brand in the snacks market with a share of more than 15%, caters to the Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan belt with offerings that are a mix of tradition and modern - namkeen and wafers. Chandubhai P Virani, MD, Balaji Wafers Pvt. Ltd, in an email interaction with Harcha Bhaskar shares details on the snacks space and how the company plans to strengthen its presence locally and globally. Excerpts:

Tell us about your manufacturing facilities.
Currently there are three manufacturing units - two in Rajkot and one in Valsad. In total, within these units, there are 14 manufacturing lines, producing snacks like namkeen and potato wafers.

From where was the processing machinery fetched? Tell us more about the machinery installed in your plants.
Initially we started with Indian machinery than importing it. At present we have all imported machinery - total 14 manufacturing lines. The machinery is imported from countries like Germany, Japan and the US.

According to you, is India self-sufficient when it comes to machinery and equipment for the snacks industry or do we need to go for imported ones?
According to me, if you want quality products, you should go for imported machinery.

How much is the production of potato wafers per day and in term of rupees by one of your plants in Rajkot?
With the use of imported machinery we are able to produce 1,200 kg per hour.

Are you planning to introduce anything new in view of the mood in the market?
We are planning to venture into baked snacks category. We are planning to introduce baked corn rings in the market, but plans are still at preliminary stage.

Balaji has rich portfolio of Indian snacks offerings. Is it the company strategy to stick to Indian snacks category?
At present, in our product portfolio, we have Western products - potato chips and Chataka Pataka. We work as per market demand, it's not company strategy to stick to Indian snacks.

Are there any plans for expansion, diversification, collaboration and so on?
Looking at the market demand, the company is planning to set up a new plant. In case of a good opportunity, the company can think of diversification and collaboration.

Is Balaji into exports? If yes, you export to which countries and which products?
Yes, we are exporting our products to the UAE and USA.

The masala and seasoning used for your products, were they manufactured in-house or imported? What are the ingredients used?
For some products masala is prepared in-house and for some products we are using imported flavours.

Balaji is known to offer value-for-money products. Comment. Also tell us about your price points.
Even a child can buy our product with his/her pocket money and he/she is satisfied with its quality and quantity and the parents also do not worry about his/her health.

The potato chips market has become saturated with several brands offering it. How would you like to differentiate your products from that of your competitors?
Balaji products are always at par in regards to quality, price, taste, and availability.

What kind of sales are you looking at in the coming five years?
About 30% growth.

Currently overall how much is the snacks market in India? What kind of growth is expected in the coming years?
According to us, its growth is approximately 20 to 25%.

What is your share in the Indian market?
Approximately, more than 15%.
 
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