Bikanervala has successfully combined modern technology with traditional wisdom
Manish Aggarwal, Director, Bikanervala Foods Pvt Ltd, elaborates on the growth journey of the company and how it succeeded in the market through agility and adoption of new and progressive ideas. He also talks about the growing market for Indian traditional snacks, while emphasising that health and taste are emerging buzzwords in the category.
IBT: What was the inspiration behind the brand “Bikano” when it was founded? How did the business launch and evolve in the initial years?
Manish Aggarwal: Our story started over a century ago from Bikaner, where our forefathers mastered the recipes & art of making Indian sweets and snacks. After India attained independence, a part of our family moved to Delhi and established a small outlet in the famous Chandni Chowk Bazar.
Our Rasogollas and Bikaneri Bhujia soon became famous and the Delhiwallas gave us a new name ‘BIKANERVALA’. At Bikanervala, we are proud to have successfully combined modern technology with traditional wisdom.
To extend the reach of our namkeens and sweets, we created the Brand BIKANO for our packaged range of products in the year 1988. We were the pioneers in developing 3 layer laminate packaging for the namkeens and introducing tiny packs.
IBT: What were the major challenges to growth and expansion and how did you meet them?
Manish Aggarwal: We are enjoying our journey; this is a very competitive environment with so many strong national players as well as MNCs. We have always believed in our brand which is known for supreme quality and taste, which creates a competitive advantage over our competitors.
Brands have to move out of stereotypical thought process, and take a step forward towards experimenting new & progressive ideas. We firmly believe in the mantra: Don’t deliver what you could do; rather, strive to deliver what your consumer needs.
Brands can create disruptions when they intend to do something different from the normal, which creates extra value for the consumers. Disruptive brands look different from their competition and register exponential growth.
Building a robust distribution network was very challenging, but the team has done immensely well to counter this and create a strong distribution network, thereby making product available at every neighborhood store.
IBT: The brand is a leading player in the sweets and snacks business, today. What transformational changes has the business undergone since its inception in terms of product portfolio/innovations, reach, brand equity, etc?
Manish Aggarwal: We always ensure agility in our infrastructure and operations. This has enabled us to develop a diversified portfolio of traditional snacks, western snacks, sweets, syrups, cookies, ready-to-eat… the list is long. Diversifying from traditional snacks to other categories was challenging, but it has really helped us become a leading brand in the category. We have worked extensively on creating a robust distribution across the nation, which adds to the brand strength.
Traditional snacks have really done great for us. It has been our endeavour to offer consistent quality & taste to the consumers.
In addition to this, we have state-of-the-art machinery installed at our factories, which have smoothened our process & enabled us to serve our consumer with quality products. The company has a strict policy of maintaining quality standards like 5’S, KAIZEN etc. at our workstations & plant. It’s our continuous effort to delight our consumers with traditional Indian taste at a reasonable price. We are also dedicated toward continuous R&D process to bring new products for the market every now & then. Some of our more recent launches are Peanut Ball and Multigrain Chips. We are looking forward to launching more products this year.
IBT: How has the brand progressed on the international front? What are the key markets you are targeting for your products and why (domestic and international)?
Manish Aggarwal: The international market has huge potential for Indian heritage food. We are exporting to over 45 countries and improving our presence year-on-year. Presently, we are catering to northern, eastern & western markets of the country, and next year, we intent to penetrate down south also. In our existing markets also, we are looking to expand our network & reach both urban as well as rural areas.
IBT: How do you see the growth in the food and agro processing industry from India, both in general and in the snacks segment? How is it expected to reflect on the export front?
Manish Aggarwal: India is one of the fastest growing economies with a huge consumer base. Over the period, India has marked a strong presence in the global market, where we are exporting to multiple countries in almost every category. Indian recipes & spices have created a mammoth demand in overseas market. People are keen towards buying Indian food & including the same in their daily meal due to its delicious & authentic taste. This demand has led to an increase in exports of Indian salty snacks in overseas markets, hence encouraging many Indian brands to sell their product in these countries.
IBT: The snack food industry is gaining global momentum. How do you see Bikano participating in the growth of the industry?
Manish Aggarwal: Snack food has emerged as an alternative to full-fledged meals with a paradigm shift in consumer behaviour patterns. The higher disposable incomes as a result of the growing urbanization and increasing preference for convenience food have triggered the growth of the snacks industry.
These trends have provided us the great opportunity to contribute in the salty snacks industry through new, innovative & quality products.
IBT: How do you plan to expand in the near future?
Manish Aggarwal: As a group, we believe in continuous improvement and this has been our success mantra. In the coming years, we are looking forward to expand our wings in the southern part of India and at the same time, expand our presence across the globe. Indian traditional snacks have gained a lot of traction in global market, and we will try to capitalise on it.
IBT: Can you please name some products that need shelf space and marketing attention?
Manish Aggarwal: The snack category is evolving, and snacking has been attracting audiences across age groups. It is important to have specific products for specific consumer segments; as snacking preferences are different for kids, youth and adults. We have many products in our portfolio with great taste & quality like the Diet Range for health-conscious people, Crunchy Munchy & Chatax for snacks loving people etc.
Furthermore, the healthy snacking segment also looks very promising. Consumers are getting health conscious and at the same time they don’t want to compromise too much on taste. Soon taste with health will become a buzzword in the category.