Mithun Appaiah says Frozen Food is the Root to Cut Cost at Restaurants

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In an exclusive interview with Restaurant India, Mithun Appaiah, CEO of Innovative foods, talks how the brand is bringing innovations in the frozen food industry in India.
  • SARA KHAN Feature Editor
Restaurant India

While the Food and Beverage (F&B) majors continue to experiment with multiple product offerings and models to cater to this growing consumer segment, it is a few emerging brands that are making dents and Sumeru Frozen Foods is one must mention. A 30-year-old heritage brand of Innovative Foods Limited, Sumeru is changing the face of how frozen food is perceived and consumed, with its product and technology innovation.

Sumeru, in collaboration with Michelin Star Chef Alfred Prasad, launched its signature 'frozen gourmet meals'. Following the launch of its signature frozen gourmet meals, the product portfolio of Sumeru Frozen Foods increased to 95 SKUs (Stock-Keeping Units).

Sumeru Frozen Foods launches the Alfred Prasad Range

The Alfred Prasad Range includes four new products – Coromandel Shahi Paneer, Coromandel Roasted Chicken, Signature Pepper Chicken and Super Millet Khichadi. Chef Alfred Prasad, while speaking at the launch, said that the dishes are made from fresh and locally-sourced ingredients; there are no added flavours, colours or preservatives.

Sumeru Frozen Foods eyes expansion in the next three years across the country and plans to grow its distribution network from 6,000 to 25,000 retail outlets in ten major cities in the country. Identifying the consumer shift, Sumeru is focused on bringing up the innovative products in the frozen food category, which was previously dominated by frozen snacks and vegetables.

In an exclusive interview with Restaurant India, Mithun Appaiah, CEO of Innovative Foods Ltd., talks about the expansion plan and how the brand is bringing innovations in the frozen food industry in India.

How Restaurants in India Look up to Frozen Food Industry

I think frozen is the root for restaurants and hotels to cut cost, ensure no wastage, maintain the consistency in the food and also maintain the taste.

Most of the restaurants use frozen foods today. Vegetables, fruits, non-veg products, curry, paneer – are among the main frozen products used at the restaurants in India. It is convenient to use as the consistency will be better and the flavours are intact. It will be going to get better with the right use of technology. Companies like Sumeru Foods take up a lot of innovation projects. We recently collaborated with Michelin Star Chef Alfred Prasad; this is the first-of-its-kind endeavours which frozen food industry has seen in India. We have parathas, chapatis, chicken products, burger patty, green peas, corn, nuggets, prawns, pork and other seafood - all these products could be used in restaurants and hotels.

The Growth of Frozen Food Industry in India

Sumeru’s Alfred Prasad Range will be available at retail outlets across cities as well as online.

As compared to other food categories, the growth in the frozen food sector is significant as the industry is growing by 15-24 per cent for the past few years. The global market is a bit mature when it comes to frozen foods. Consumers know about the products, they know its goodness. The frozen food trend is slowly catching up in India because of the technology, social media and the western influence and news. Consumers in India are getting to know about the goodness of the frozen foods and, hence, there is growth in the Indian market.

Frozen food is the next sunrise industry in the food space.

If you look at it, there are very few players operating in the category in India, especially. A lot of innovations are needed in frozen foods which Sumeru has understood and is looking into it.

Must Read: How Frozen Foods Have Become A Healthy & Wealthy Option

Frozen Food Breakfast Scenario at Indian Homes

One of the things about Sumeru Frozen Foods is - it provides the products in the best form considering health proportion; the brand doesn’t use any preservatives or colours or flavours. It focuses on keeping the nutrients intact.

Sumeru uses Individual Quick Frozen (IQF) technology i.e., flash freezing. This technology helps in preserving the nutrients and the goodness of the products. The breakfast nutrients get disrupted with other frozen technologies. Our range of frozen breakfast brings all kinds of foods that you want to eat globally at your doorstep. If you want to have a European breakfast, you can have a healthy, ready breakfast meal. You can enjoy it a lot better than making it from scratch.

Even if you are sitting in a remote place, maybe Siliguri in the north-east, you can have the food from across the world.

We, as a brand, have a lot of products in breakfast category such as Aloo Parathas. We also export products, to the US and Singapore market, that fall in breakfast space – Idli, Sambhar, Vada and Idiappam.

Market Presence of Sumeru Frozen Foods

Michelin Star Chef Alfred Prasad and CEO of Innovative Foods Mithun Appaiah

We want to disrupt the way consumers perceive and purchase frozen food. Our association with renowned Chef Alfred Prasad, a first in the country within this space reiterates our commitment to bring to consumers new and better experiences in consuming their daily food.

~Mithun Appaiah, CEO of Innovative Foods

We are present across 130 towns and cities in India, and in 10+ countries in the world that includes the US, Singapore, Middle East and Australia. Our food is also available at e-commerce stores Big Basket and Grofers, and we are there in all the major retail stores too. Sumeru Frozen Foods also exports its products.

Also Read: Cashing On Frozen Foods Might Just Become Your Next Business Opportunity

Expansion Plans

From a domestic market perspective, we are looking at doubling the distribution reach.

Today there is a big gap in the market where frozen food companies are very few and need good innovative products to cater to restaurants and hotel. We are looking to building the restaurant and hotel caterers’ channel, a significant one. We are also exploring the QSR chains and a lot of other restaurant formats so that they can buy the Sumeru products and use in their restaurants.

Export is another focus area of Sumeru.

Target Consumers

The women who fall between the age group of 25-45 and kids are our target consumers. There is a great demand for french fries and nuggets among kids. We do not serve the regular French fries or nuggets but a chef’s twist is added.

Key Elements to Build Successful Frozen Food Business in India

  • Technology at Backend – The backend has to be good. You need to have a cold chain and warehousing facilities.
  • Great products – Bringing innovations to your range will always work. Focus on the flavours of the food as well.
  • Excellent Distribution Network – You should have an excellent distribution market across the country to reach out to the right customers. This is a crucial aspect.
  • Talk About the Brand – You need to talk about the brand continues to reach out to your consumers.

Frozen Food Trends in India in 2019

It will be largely driven by all the other food trends, especially in India. Just like we collaborated with Michelin Star Chef Alfred Prasad to introduce the new range of frozen food products, other players should collaborate with the known chefs to bring out the best in the industry.

There will be more innovative frozen products bringing best of the globe into your kitchen and homes. Frozen foods will be a lot fresher and full of nutrients.

Things to Know About Sumeru Frozen Foods

  • Innovation Foods Ltd., which owns Sumeru, aims to expand its domestic market to Rs 2.5 billion in the next three years.
  • Sumeru’s revenue run rate stands at Rs. 900 million.
  • Apart from the 6,000+ outlets in more than 150 cities and towns in India, Sumeru has outlets in 12 countries across the globe which includes the United States, Australia, Singapore, Middle East and Nepal.
  • Sumeru Frozen Foods also supplies customised products for food service businesses and quick service restaurant chains in India.
  • It has a manufacturing unit in Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh and two in Kochi.
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