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Soch Foods: Raising the bar for snacking

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Soch Foods, which began as a small kitchen enterprise in Goregaon, now sells its granola to big hotels, supermarkets and even global customers

A caring young wife’s decision to pack healthy homemade snacks for her husband to take to work spawned a business idea.

Purvi Pugalia would prepare her version of granola for her husband Rohit Mohan Pugalia, who worked at a stockbroking firm in Kolkata back in 2012. Today, their enterprise, Soch Food LLC, supplies healthy snacks to supermarkets, upscale stores and even the Marriott Hotel in Coimbatore, which has opted to serve health food for breakfast.

“While I was working, I needed to eat mid-meals every two to three hours. Purvi used to pack lots of healthy snacks in my tiffin box, such as salads and sandwiches. Executives tend to eat samosas, bhel or vada pav at work, which makes them lethargic,” said Mr. Pugalia, founder and CEO, Soch Foods LLC.

When the couple decided to return to Mumbai in 2015 they thought of starting a business that could provide snacking options for health-conscious Indians on the move.

“We felt snacks between meals should energise executives instead of making them lethargic,” said Mr. Pugalia.

The venture, began with a ₹5-lakh investment from their own pockets in their home kitchen in Goregaon in 2015. A year-and-a-half ago, it sharpened its focus to granola. Mr. Pugalia decided to share the special nosh his wife prepared for him through Soch Foods, and thus was born the Munchilicious Granola brand.

Soch Foods: Raising the bar for snacking

Innovative pouches

Granola is a breakfast and snack food consisting of oats, nuts, seeds and honey or other sweeteners, that is usually baked until crisp. It promotes weight loss, improves energy levels, manages blood pressure, reduces cholesterol levels and improves digestion. One can eat it straight out of the box, with milk or yoghurt, or as a fudge topping. It can also be eaten with smoothies and ice cream, and sprinkled over salads.

When the Pugalias started the venture, granola was not manufactured in India, and was available at select places such as Irla, Vile Parle, in Mumbai or Khan Market in Delhi.

Ms. Pugalia herself sourced granola from Alfa stores in Irla, having seen it on her trips to the U.K. She started making her own granola and created unique recipes. In the initial days, the couple would make small pouches, put stickers on them and sell them in community markets.

“During sampling at such markets, we noticed that people of all age groups would love the granola so much that they would come repeatedly for the pouches. We thought we can make a successful business out of this,” Mr. Pugalia said.

Soch Foods started mass production of Munchilicious Granola in May 2019 and production has moved to a processing unit in the suburbs from their home kitchen.

A healthy option

The couple got their granola tested and focused on packaging, among other things. All products are manufactured in an ISO 22000:2005 unit certified by the Food Safety Management System, Mr Pugalia said.

Their target group includes urban customers who lead a healthy lifestyle, hotels, and restaurants. They appeal to those who prefer organic and natural eating; those who want to control sugar, salt and transfats in their food.

It also includes those who prefer granola as a snack while consuming liquor or even breakfast in hotels, or during breaks in multiplexes.

Soch Foods: Raising the bar for snacking

Travelling the world

Soch Foods has posted double-digit growth of over 35% in its first full year of operations, and is selling 2,000 to 5,000 packs every month at ₹500-650 for 500 grams.

Soch is present in single stores such as Organic Expressions and Godrej Nature’s Basket in Mumbai, Spencer’s in Kolkata, and Aditya Birla Retail’s More in Delhi.

It has a 50:50 online-offline presence, retailing in 100 stores in Mumbai, 50 in Bengaluru, 25 in Chennai, 10 in Delhi and seven in Kolkata, while focusing on new markets such as Hyderabad, Pune and Gurgaon.

“We are getting good response from Tier-III markets such as Jabalpur and parts of Madhya Pradesh. The first sales come offline but repeat orders are coming from online platforms,” Mr. Pugalia said.

The company does its sampling in gymnasiums and corporate offices.

“We have introduced the product in three variants — Dark Chocolate, Original and Dry Fruits. We have just unveiled two more variants — Grain Free (90% nuts and seeds) and Savoury Granola with Indian spices,” Mr. Pugalia said.

Soch Foods is positioning itself as a healthy, anytimesnacking option too.

Recently, the company tied up with Marriott Hotel in Coimbatore, which offers Munchilicious Granola as breakfast.

The company is in final stages of talks with other five-star hotels in Mumbai and Bengaluru, Mr. Pugalia said.

“People always look for meals that tantalise the taste buds. No matter how healthy any food is, it will not be received favourably unless it is tasty. So we decided to bring forth the benefits of granola in a decorous and tasteful manner,” Mr. Pugalia said.

He also said the products are prepared keeping hygiene in mind, and has incorporated the latest technology for manufacturing, baking, processing and packing.

Soch retails Munchilicious granola through Lazada, Singapore’s most popular e-commerce platform for groceries. It has also started sampling the product in West Asia, Sri Lanka and Germany, with clients in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

To create a presence in the international markets, it has participated in two large food exhibitions — Gulfood in West Asia and Tutto Food in Milan, Italy.

From their little home kitchen to the world markets, they can truly say they have raised the bar.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 12:56:00 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/raising-the-bar-for-snacking/article30240758.ece

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