Food processing industry is expected to grow exponentially in near future
Repute Engineers Pvt Ltd has been committed to addressing the engineering requirements of food processing industries in India and beyond since 1998. Specializing in critical process equipment and systems, Repute is now a premier one-stop solution provider for the food processing sector, particularly in dairy and beverages. Over the past 24 years, the company’s growth has extended across continents, with their equipments installed in 22 countries worldwide, contributing to a remarkable record of over 800 successful projects in the food processing industry.
With IndusFood Tech just around the corner, India Business and Trade engaged with Mr Dinesh C Nambiar, Founder and Managing Director at Repute Engineers Pvt Ltd to learn about inspiration that drove the company’s growth and how technological advancements could help the Food Processing Industry in future.
IBT: Please provide an overview of your company, the product segments you operate in and your key achievements till date.
Dinesh C Nambiar: Repute was founded in 1998 with the primary goal of providing essential support to milk processing farmers and the unorganized industry. Specifically, we focused on engineering projects and sourcing from various manufacturers. We then installed and handed over the plants for operation. This was our initial responsibility. We began as a project engineering team, and within two years, we diversified into the beverage industry. In 2002, we introduced the first mango pulp-based drink in PET bottles in India.
From that point onward, our journey involved transitioning from a company serving the dairy industry to expanding into the beverage industry. In this sector, we initiated our product line with mango-based drinks in PET bottles. Up until then, such drinks were typically available in glass bottles or aseptic cartons. We introduced 200 ml, 500 ml, and 1000 ml PET bottle options, causing a significant revolution and making substantial progress in this segment.
During this period, we also ventured into collaborations with mango pulp processing industries, providing pasteurizers for can filling and aseptic filling. However, we eventually withdrew from this endeavor.
This overview provides a glimpse of Repute’s evolution from its inception to the present. I won’t delve into a detailed year-by-year account, as Repute is now a 24-year-old company, and describing each year’s accomplishments would be extensive.
If you ask me to categorize our journey into three compartments, we can divide it as follows: First, we began with the dairy industry. Then, we ventured into the beverage industry. Finally, we extended our operations to encompass the critical high-tech equipment required for both juice as a beverage and the dairy industry. Allow me to provide some additional details.
In India, during 2005 and 2006, there were three or four companies, most of which were subsidiaries of international brands established in India. These companies served the people with equipment, either manufactured in India or imported, depending on the specific requirements they had.
After establishing our presence in both the dairy and beverage industries, we further expanded our horizons by collaborating with leading equipment manufacturers from Europe. This partnership allowed us to access critical high-tech equipment for our operations.
When I mention critical high-tech equipment, it’s important to note that some of this equipment is actually manufactured in India. However, the imported technology and materials still offer superior performance and an economical solution. We recognized the value of this and collaborated with a company called Bertoli for high-pressure homogenizers and piston pumps, which are essential in the mango pulp industry, as well as the juice and milk industries.
From 2005 to 2008, we procured these pieces of equipment, and since then, we have been representing them in India. We have successfully installed over 300 to 350 units across India, along with some projects abroad.
Additionally, we expanded our equipment portfolio to include centrifugal separators designed for the dairy industry, specifically for milk. These separators are used for cream separation, clarification, and standardization. This equipment, known as the tri-purpose centrifuge, was sourced in collaboration with an Italian company. Subsequently, this Italian company was acquired by a multinational corporation within two to three years.
Next, we expanded our collaboration to include another company, Reda, known for their expertise in designing and manufacturing ultra-high-temperature processes for producing multiple products within a single plant. They also have their separators, and we formed a partnership with them for these aspects. This partnership remains active to this day.
Now, as we discuss our advancements, these three segments are the core of our operations. However, we have introduced additional products. To provide a couple of examples, we’ve taken the UHT plant, previously imported from a company called Reda, and for the past two years, we have been designing and manufacturing it ourselves, specifically for milk. As for beverages, we’ve been involved in their design and manufacturing since 2008. In the realm of aseptic processing, a field with very few players in the country, Repute has also emerged as a manufacturer in this domain..
Anyway, let me provide a brief overview. When it comes to aseptic processes, having an aseptic filling machine is crucial. In this regard, we have partnered with a 100-year-old company and currently have 25 machines deployed across India.
When we celebrated our 25th anniversary last February, we realized that we have made a significant impact in both the dairy and beverage industries. While I haven’t delved into the specific products and services we offer in the dairy industry, I can assure you that we handle everything, just as we did when we started as a turnkey project engineering company. We still continue to deliver 100% SCADA-operated, single-room-controlled dairy plants. Our expertise and capacity have grown to this level. This is the essence of what Repute was, and what Repute represents today.
IBT: What is your target customer base, and how do you view its growth potential? What are the factors driving this growth?
Dinesh Nambiar: The processing industry is experiencing rapid growth, and this expansion isn’t merely based on figures, data, or research. It can be explained this way: those who could afford high-quality products 20 years ago have now moved on to even better products. Those who couldn’t afford them have reached a standard level of quality, and those who haven’t yet reached that level also require such products. So, there’s a market for fully established, top-tier brands, high-quality products, as well as standard quality products, and there are unorganized sectors catering to various needs. The processing industry in India is advancing rapidly, and it’s foreseeable that sooner or later, it will become a market dominated by quality products, regardless of whether they come from organized or unorganized sectors.
Individual purchasing power has increased, people’s tastes have evolved, and the younger generation has its unique preferences. In the end, everyone must consume food, and as a result, the industry holds great growth potential for the future. It’s already thriving, and it’s expected to grow exponentially in the near future.
IBT: Can you share examples of successful case studies wherein clients have benefited from your technology solutions?
Dinesh Nambiar: Back in 2002, when we initiated the juice processing plant using PET bottles, PET was rarely used, except for drinking water. Otherwise, the options were either an aseptic filling machine or a glass filling machine. Both had their drawbacks. With glass bottles, there was the need to collect, wash, and refill them, creating inconvenience. Setting up such a project required a robust infrastructure to manage these complexities, limiting access to only those who could afford it.
On the other hand, the aseptic system had substantial investment requirements that were clearly stated in terms of rupees per project. These two scenarios changed when we began filling juice in PET bottles. This made it feasible for middle-class individuals and entrepreneurs to enter the business and establish such projects. They could then explore aseptic packaging or other high-quality products in the future. It’s worth noting that numerous individuals, including ourselves at Repute, have completed over 200 to 250 projects of this size. We want to clarify that we didn’t claim to invent these technologies, but we were among the first to implement them. Our solutions worked well for the industry and contributed to our continued prominence in the market for these types of products.
IBT: What strategic approach have you adopted for the international market? How do you ensure that your technology aligns with industry standards?
Dinesh Nambiar: Let me address the second part of your question first. In terms of the industrial standards we adhere to, we are registered and members of the Equipment Design European Hygiene Standards. Additionally, we hold the ISR 9000:2015 certification for our company. As part of our commitment to quality, we have our own general manufacturing practices in place to ensure the quality of the equipment we produce and provide to the industry.
Now, regarding our international market strategy, in recent years, apart from the COVID period, the government has introduced various incentive programs to encourage companies to focus on the export market. For us, we have established a significant client base in Africa, the GCC countries, and the SAARC countries. Additionally, we have collaborated with European partners and business associates to provide equipment and systems jointly. They handle what they can, and for the rest, we work with partners from other countries.
As a company, Repute does not have a dedicated export division. Instead, we coordinate with teams abroad and various agencies, participating in exhibitions and other activities. We are actively present in the international market and currently generate around 15% to 20% of our annual turnover from exports. However, we are now planning to establish a separate division to handle this aspect with extensive advertising and social media efforts.
IBT: What is your view of technological advancements and global competitiveness of Indian Food processing technology industry in your segment? How do you expect it to grow in the future?
Dinesh Nambiar: As the demand for the final product is heavily focused on quality, all associated activities must be centered around ensuring quality. This includes aspects such as ingredients, processing, packaging, shelf life, and handling; they all need to meet high-quality standards. Only when all these elements align can the final product delivered to the customer be considered of high quality.
In the Indian system, there has been a noticeable shift towards emphasizing the importance of delivering quality products. This change is significant, and I believe it has progressed quite far. The demand for quality products remains constant. In my experience over the last 25 years, I can confidently say that I have not compromised on my working methods or quality standards. Technological advancements in various product areas have allowed us to effectively compete in the market and maintain our position, even in the face of tough competition. Therefore, we are on par with international technology standards and continue to deliver quality products.
IBT: With less than 3 months left for IndusFoodTech 2024, what are your thoughts and expectations from the show?
Dinesh Nambiar: First and foremost, my expectation from Indus Food is that in India, there are excellent manufacturers and reputable companies engaged in manufacturing and various industries. I believe that the participants, especially those who have exhibition stalls, should be introduced by the organizers to foreign visitors. This introduction should highlight their advantages, experience, and leadership in the market. I’m not referring to specific names or brands. This approach would provide foreign visitors with a group of companies that are at the forefront of the industry, allowing them to make informed choices. I understand that not every inquiry will lead to an order, but my expectation is that the organizers will present the best companies available in the country.
Secondly, on the same global platform, I recommend that the organizers focus on creating opportunities for Indian companies to be part of a delegation or team that can represent the country. This would allow us to have a stronger presence and receive more recognition from the global market. I want to emphasize that while some people may have reservations about Indian quality, we have received repeat orders many times, and we believe in the capability of our fellow entrepreneurs. Of course, there may be occasional exceptions. Ultimately, I believe that Indus Food should aim for a win-win situation for both the event and the participating entrepreneurs.
Mr. Dinesh Nambiar started REPUTE Engineers with a vision to contribute to the Indian dairy and beverage processing industry. Over the period Mr Nambiar has inspired, led and established Repute engineers as a reliable and recognized company with a well working service network equipped with trained engineers, stock of spares and technical excellence at all times to serve the dairy, beverage and food industry in India and abroad.