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INTERVIEW

“We are doubling our facility size to be future-ready”
Monday, 04 December, 2017, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Gits Food Products Pvt. Ltd, a pioneer in introduction of instant mixes in the country, is among the first food product manufacturing companies in India to obtain ISO 9001-2008 (Quality Standard) and ISO 22000 (Food Safety). Distributed widely across India and exported to over 40 countries, Gits products include instant mixes (ready-to-cook), ready meals (ready-to-eat) and dairy products. Sahil Gilani, director, sales and marketing, Gits Food Products Pvt. Ltd, in an email interaction with Anurag More throws light on how growing consumer demand for RTE and RTC foods will make the convenience foods sales wheel turn faster and what his company is doing in tune with the trend. Excerpts:

The government plans to spend Rs 6,000 crore to create food processing infrastructure. How will it help the RTE market?
The food processing industry is ever evolving by adapting to new technologies that make food safer and better. Hence, the government plan to spend on food processing infrastructure will be a boon as we will get better access to newer technologies to further enhance our products’ quality and shelf life.
 
Are you happy with the rate of Goods and Services Tax (GST) imposed on RTE foods? If not, can you give the reasons?
While we think GST makes business easier, we are unhappy with the hike in our tax rate. Instant mixes had a VAT of 12% which is now hiked to a GST of 18%. Moreover, idli-dosa batters have a GST of 5% while idli-dosa instant mix, which is a direct substitute/competing product, has a GST of 18%. This gives an unfair advantage to batter manufacturers. We have been urging the GST Council to rectify this ASAP.

What is the impact of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) on the Indian RTE market?
It has stirred up a very competitive environment with more MNCs entering the category. However, it is this healthy competition that helps grow small categories like RTE. In addition it also helps bring in international food standards.

What are the challenges faced by the Indian RTE market?
The biggest challenge the RTE market faces is negative consumer perception that RTE products are unsafe and considered junk food. However, Gits pioneered the instant mixes category and has always promoted all natural products without any preservatives, MSG, artificial colours/flavours.

What steps are you, as a leading food processing player, taking to overcome these?
Over the years, we have emphasised more on these product USPs to break consumer myths. They are now more prominently mentioned on the packs as well as in our communication mediums.
 
What are the steps that the industry needs to take to overcome these challenges?
I think most players have started highlighting product safety benefits on their packs more clearly. Breaking such consumers myths will have to be collaborative effort that will help all players.
 
What are the current trends that you are witnessing in the RTE market?
There have been two prominently emerging trends in RTE segment for past few years - health and convenience. While there is a growing need for healthier products, their adaptation by consumers is slow. However, convenience benefits have a much quicker adaptation and consumers take well to products that offer quicker and easier preparation.

Have you, as a leader in the food processing industry, identified any future trends?
To identify future trends in India one must consider the international food trends that are currently trending - clean and sustainable packaging, plant-based proteins, superfoods, roasted and puffed snacks are few to name. We have already adapted some of these innovations at Gits by launching our Wholesome Breakfast Mixes enriched with flax seeds, oats, ragi, brown rice, etc. In addition, we have also launched fire-roasted snacks called Happy Snack Mix for the mainstream export market that contains ancient superfoods such as sorghum and red lentils.

What is the outlook for the RTE market in India?
The RTE market in India is yet underdeveloped and needs to be further exploited to grow into larger category. There is a growing consumer need for these products which is a healthy sign that the category is poised for bigger consumption in coming years.

What are the expansion plans that have been undertaken by you?
We are in the process of doubling our production facility size and output to keep us future-ready. In addition we have made significant expansions into dairy production and ready/canned desserts over the past year.

Do you have any plans to launch new products?
We have launched 10 new products in 2017. We will continue to add new products every year and already have our plans set for new exciting products for 2018. There is a lot ‘cooking’ at Gits and we are excited to roll out these innovations in coming months.
 
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