Gandhinagar, Aug 1 (IANS) Balaji Namkeens, a household name in Gujarat for wafers and snacks, is coming up with an ambitious national plan to introduce Chikki at a throwaway price of Rs 10, even as it looks to expand footprints across the country with facilities at various places.
“In a short time, we are coming up with a very nutritive product, Chikki, and that too at a very affordable price of just Rs 10. This product will be very nutritive and healthy,” Chandubhai Virani, the founder and Director of Balaji Wafers told IANS in an interview.
“Right now our country faces a big problem of malnutrition. We aim our product to be a significant contributor in fighting that,” Virani says.
He adds, “There is nothing more nutritive than jaggery and groundnut. Right now Chikki is considered to be the domain of Lonavala in Maharashtra, but our Saurashtra Chikki will be far better in every aspect. It will also come in a most modern packaging having a shelf life of over two months.”
There are also other products from corn, soya, etc. in the pipeline, he informed.
Virani was talking on the sidelines of the HR Conclave, held at the Gujarat International Finance Tech (GIFT) city, Club and Resorts, recently. The conclave provided a platform for young entrepreneurs to interact with successful businessmen.
Chandubhai Virani has high hopes from the Virani’s next generation. “I see a possibility of having our plants outside India in future. But for the present our plans are for India.”
“We will be setting up our fourth plant in Punjab soon with an investment of about Rs 250 crore. We also plan to move towards expanding in the East as well as the South,” added Virani.
The snacks giant at present has plants at Rajkot and Valsad in Gujarat and another in Indore in Madhya Pradesh, with a total capacity of 7 to 8 lakh kilogram potato processing and around 10 lakh kg Namkeen manufacturing. With an investment of around Rs 1,000 crore, the company’s turnover this year was Rs 2,000 crore.
Starting from a humble background, Chandubhai has seen it all, right from the time when he himself used to fry the potato wafers in his rented house and sold it on his scooter in Rajkot.
“I am the only person in my family who knows how to fry wafers perfectly,” smiles Chandubhai Virani. “Now we have over 5,000 employees, 10 lakh shops in ten states, with a network of 800 dealers. We also export our products to forty countries,” added Virani.
Despite stiff competition from major players in and outside India, Balaji holds over 70 per cent of market share in Gujarat and to some extent in Maharashtra and some other states.
“Like the multinationals and other brands, we don’t believe in spending huge on advertisements, huge commissions and hiring Bollywood stars for promotion. Rather than that, I believe in passing on the benefit to the customers. Our USP is best quality at very affordable prices,” says Virani.