Bikaji: The taste of a regal tradition
In 1987, a visionary entrepreneur Shivratan Agarwal, set out on a remarkable journey by venturing into manufacturing of the now-famous Bhujia. Today, Bikaji is a benchmark success story of leveraging a strong GI product to build a successful international F&B brand.
Founded by an adventurous Rathore prince, Rao Bikaji, in 1488, the city of Bikaner is known for the royal hospitality of its heart-warming people. A regal culture, tradition, adventure, and cuisine – all add to the charm of this glorious city and impart it with a distinct flavour. One such interesting story that culminates these elements is ‘bhujiya’.
Legend has it that in 1887, Maharaja Shri Dungar Singhji ordered a special variety of savoury snacks (or namkeen) to be prepared for serving to the royal guests. It was then that the cooks of his royal kitchen came up with a light yellow coloured delicious snack named ‘Dungar Shahi Bhujia’. The ruler and his guests savoured this crunchy and addictive snack. Soon, Bhujia became the trademark dish of Bikaner and has earned this city gastronomic fame.
Hundred years later, an avant-garde entrepreneur Shivratan Agarwal, set out on his journey to serve the delicious tastes of Bikaner by venturing into manufacturing the now-famous Bhujia, Namkeen, Papad, Snacks and Sweets under the label Shivdeep Industries Limited (now, Bikaji Foods International Ltd.).
Far ahead of his time, this visionary man laid the foundation of his dream venture when the technology to produce Bhujia on a large scale was beyond imagination. He also came up with the brand’s name Bikaji in 1993 after the founder of the city. This catchy name created an instant brand recall value for his customers. It was under his able leadership that unorganized manufacturing of Bhujia transformed into an organized sector and grew to be an industry in itself. The company carved a niche for its flagship brand, Bikaji, in the fast-food segment too. He believes:
If you aren’t curious and excited, you can’t innovate, if you can’t innovate, you can’t survive.
Today, Bikaji has a global footprint and stands tall as the largest producer of Bhujia in the world. It is also one of the largest manufacturers of ethnic snacks. These snacks are enjoyed by millions of foodies across 11 major European, American and Gulf Countries, Australia, Japan and Singapore. A few of its best-selling products include Bikaneri Bhujiya, Crusty Nuts, Baat Cheet Papad, Tana Tan Aloo Bhujia, Sohni Soan Papdi, Anjeer Dry Fruit Barfi, & Mom’s Special Combo.
These snacks are produced in its four state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities that are capable of churning out 300 products covering a wide range of Bhujia, Namkeens, Sweets, Papad, Western Snacks, Cookies, RTE, frozen foods amongst others. Processing, production and packing machines are imported from Germany, Australia, Netherland, China, Taiwan, Italy, and US. Fully equipped chemical and microbiology laboratories are present in the factories to ensure that its products meet international standards. It has acquired international quality standards – ISO 9001:2015, ISO 22000:2005, BRC issue 8 with ‘A’ grade, HALAL certification, EIC approval for milk products processing establishment, APEDA approval for peanut-based products processing.
Over the course of these last 3 decades, the brand achieved many milestones:
- In 1992, Bikaji Foods International Ltd. was conferred the National Award for Industrial Excellence. It was the first company to receive an honour in the category of food products.
- Some of the other accolades that it received were – Industrial Excellence Award (1998), Bharat Udyog Award (2002), Bharat Jain Mahamandal Award (2004), and Rajasthan State Award for Export Excellence (2010).
- The company was the first to introduce colour packaging. It has recorded the highest production of Bikaneri Bhujia in India at 50 tonnes per day.
- The brand launched first of its kind restaurant – Bikaji Food Junxon, Mumbai – in 2008.
- It was the first-ever Indian brand to have garnered Rs 900 million private equity from Lighthouse.
- In its silver jubilee year, it managed to raise Rs 250 million through a combination of primary & secondary investment from IIFL.
- In 2019, it launched an iconic multi-media campaign featuring the eminent Bollywood actor, Amitabh Bachchan.
- It is the first in the industry to manufacture Rasgulla on a fully automated manufacturing line with best-in-class tech software embedded like SCADA.
Some of the factors that have contributed in making this brand an international sensation in the F&B segment include: focus on premium quality, hygiene, placing food products competitively priced to their customers worldwide, meeting their ever-changing demands and thereby building consumer loyalty. It also has a dedicated workforce that believes in the same values, qualities and commitment as its employers.
The brand has set out very ambitious targets for itself in the coming years. It seeks to attain turnover of Rs 2,300 crores in the forthcoming 5 years. It is also planning to promote the presence of its upcoming brands Funkeen and Cafe. Funkeen is a brand that takes care of Indian mixes, roasted mixes and munching snacks. Cafe, on the other hand, has been built to introduce extruded snacks with a desi twist. Further, it is planning to enter into new markets and territories, set up new manufacturing units at various points of India and diversify into new business areas.
This article is a part of TPCI’s Connect initiative.