DESAMANGALAM FOOD: BEST QUALITY AT BEST PRICES
Desamangalam Food also known as “Urban South”, was started in 2017, in a 100 sq ft room with limited resources and manpower. Today, after nearly three years, Urban South has grown from an apartment production to a full-fledged factory having advanced machinery and more than fifteen staff members.
The vision of Desamangalam Food is to feed the world with hygienic and quality food and enrich their lives with convenient-to-cook products: to have their products reach every home.
It all began when former bank employee, Mr. D. N. Balasubramanian, in 2016 visited a local grocer to buy idli/dosa batter. The grocer handed over a batter packed in a polythene tied bag containing no information about the product at all. When the batter was opened for consumption he realized that it was stale with very low-quality packaging. When he went to complain about the stale batter, the local grocer refused to take any responsibility for the quality, saying he shall communicate it to the manufacturer. That is when he thought of putting some research work into how this industry works and found out that it was not one grocery store but an entire cartel of the local unbranded batter producers and local grocery shops involved in it. Most of the branded batters were priced above Rs.70 per kg and there were no branded batter selling under Rs.55 per kg. These batters are produced and sold without any proper precautions or expiry date attached to it. Neither are they FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) licensed and approved.
They are all made, sold and consumed purely based on the goodwill of the grocery stores thereby compromising on the health of hundreds of local families. What’s surprising is that almost 80% of the local population buys this unhealthy batter and thereby risks the health of their families. That’s when Mr Bala who was earlier working with HDFC Bank and Indiabulls Financial Services Ltd as Senior V. P. decided to quit his well-paying and settled corporate job to do some good to society by giving everyone quality products at affordable rates.
Urban South was the first to enter the price brand of under Rs.55/- with proper packaging as per FDA rules and challenge the batter manufacturers in the unorganized sector.
The Urban South Idli Batter has created its own niche of loyal consumers and is adding new customers every day due to its batter quality and idli/dosa taste. Desamangalam Food is also bringing in 13-minutes ready-to-cook products which include Sambar PreMix, Rava Dosa PreMix, Umpa PreMix, etc. The target consumers include not only housewives or working women but also students and bachelors. Desamangalam Food aims to be a part of their “I made it’’ moment. With Urban South RtC (ready to Cook) products, people who don’t know how to cook or don’t have the time can cook in a jiffy.
Innovation seems to be the key component in staying ahead in the competition with the companies looking at new ways to enhance the visibility of their products in the milieu of fast-changing consumer preferences and increasing popularity of regional cuisines. From value-added spices and curry powders, most have migrated to blended masala mixes, ready-to-cook (RTC) and ready-to-eat (RTE) categories.
Desamangalam Food is launching soon its ready to cook gravy masalas and other ready to cook items. They realize that if a consumer gets excellent quality products which can help them save almost 80% of their cooking time, why won’t they go for it. They also have a fairly large growing B2C segment which helps them understand the difficulties of working women, mothers or for that matter, bachelors. Moreover, they are now bringing in smaller packs (one-time use) to ensure that housewives need not block their kitchen storing space for unused gravy mixes. They are also bringing in regional specialized gravy mixes.
Desamangalam Food was one of the first companies across India to challenge the local unorganized idli batter manufacturing sector with proper packaging as per the FDA including expiry dates. They were discouraged by the retailers saying they will lose money due to the replacement of expired stock. They did suffer losses in the first eight months but were determined to stick to their vision.
And today it’s paying off. They broke that wall down and the customers have now changed the way they look at buying idli batter. Consumers are getting educated about hygiene and the quality of products. Consumers have realized that they need not pay a huge price to get a hygienic and quality idli/ dosa batter.
Another struggle the company faced was the local unorganized batter manufacturers cartel (also called Anna’s) who kept threatening them not to enter the market. These local manufacturers never allow any new brand or manufacturer to enter the local market in the under Rs.40/- price band category. But eventually, Desamangalam Food succeeded because the quality of their batter exceeded the customer’s expectations. Today they have loyal customers who don’t prefer any other brand.
KEEPING AHEAD OF THE COMPETITION
To be able to adopt and adapt to the latest technologies is of utmost importance for survival. They are in the process of adopting various food safety and quality assurances mechanisms like Total Quality Management (TQM), ISO 22000, Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and Good Hygienic Practices (GHP), which ensures adherence to stringent quality and hygiene norms and thereby protects consumer health, prepares the industry to face global competition, enhances product acceptance by overseas buyers and keeps the industry technologically abreast of international best practices.
Desamangalam Food sells about fifteen products and idli batter is their flagship product. Idli batter is a very complex product to sell as it needs proper handling while manufacturing and also needs proper cold chain management till it reaches the consumer’s hand and all this within 48 hours of manufacturing the batter. Hence they keep experimenting with various ways to enhance the shelf life and reduce the speed of fermentation of batter.
In their other products, they keep analyzing the B2C client’s pain area which helps them bring in new products or improvise the existing products. They have a lab and the quality and control team of the company helps them in achieving this goal.
The Indian food industry is poised for huge growth, increasing its contribution to world food trade every year. In India, the food sector has emerged as a high-growth and high-profit sector due to its immense potential for value addition, particularly within the food processing industry. Desamangalam Food has been growing at a 100% YoY growth rate.
In 2018 they got their first break to work with a billion-dollar Indian company and since then they have been catering to many big corporate and high-end star hotels.