Sanjay Jain, director, Elanpro, a Delhi based commercial refrigeration company was recently in the state for a food safety awareness programme. In a quick interview with Shoma Patnaik he shares his views on the current status of the commercial refrigeration industry. He says that, due to the latest trend of eating out the demand for commercial refrigerators by the food service industry is witnessing significant growth.
Is Goa an important market for you?
Goa definitely is one of the best markets for us because it gives us good business and has good potential. It is a compact place and therefore easy to cover. Secondly, as a seller, operating in Goa is important because it gives international perspective as people from all over the world come here. The state has some of the best restaurants, food chains, shacks, five-star deluxe hotels. So it has the full gamut of users which is required for any market. Our local partner, Gobal Enterprises is very aggressive and customer service oriented. They give us a big boost in the marker.
What are your plans for the Goa market?
We have been growing for last nine years. This year the plan is to touch Rs 4 crore in Goa turnover. Now we are about Rs 3.5 crore. The Goa market is growing by 20 per cent annually. Overall there has been ups and down but we have been growing well. .
What is your position in the commercial refrigeration industry vis-à-vis companies like Blue Star, Voltas, etc.?
It will be wrong for us to say that we are number one. However we have a position in the market and are known as the most innovative player in the industry. We can figure out what works best for India. For instance, ice machine is one of the products that is very important to all food operators. It is a product that cannot work unless you have the purified water with water pressure. But where in food outlets can you get water pressure? If the operator uses RO there is no way the pressure can be made. In the absence of water pressure people avoid the problem and buy ice. But buying ice is not hygienic. So we introduced a machine that works well with a 20 litre jar and it does not need RO connection. I would say that, on number front we may not be as big as the large companies, but on reliability, brand equity, range we are probably one of the best.
What is the market size of commercial refrigeration in India?
It would be close to Rs 1,500 crore. Commercial refrigeration is vast. The user spectrum ranges from bars, hotel kitchen, pastry shops, ice cream outlets, companies like Pepsi, Coke, Amul, coffee shops, etc. While the product spectrum is equally diverse with appliances such as chillers, freezers, confectionary showcases, mini bars, wine coolers, showcase freezers, etc. Most of the companies in the industry have presence in one or the other segment but not comprehensive like us.
How big is the potential demand for commercial refrigeration in India?
I would put it differently. Currently in India where is refrigeration? It is hardly there. Which means that, there is only one way for the industry to go? It has to grow. If we compare with neighbouring countries like Thailand, Singapore or Malayasia, the level of refrigeration that they have we don’t even have fraction of it. Secondly we live in vry hot and humid country which means it is all the more important to have refrigeration. Thirdly, according to the latest research and survey about 40-45 per cent of our produce is wasted which means that we need to preserve all that.
Do you have presence in refrigeration of farm produce?
Right now we are not catering to that although it is a
segment that we may look at in future.
We are more at the end-user side.
Retail and hotels, restaurants and cafes (HORECA) is where our focus is
presently. Indians on the whole are eating out more. That means more
restaurants will come up and demand for refrigeration will
Since yours is a company which sources its products from manufacturers in several countries would Make in India affect you adversely?
Why adversely we are Indian company. Eventually we plan to get into production. However because the Indian market is still evolving we feel India does not have the market size for large scale production. For instance, in ice machine the total Indian market size is less than 5,000 units. International players want large size factories and huge factory and a market that gives good reason for R&D spending. We are working towards setting up manufacturing plant.
How important is pricing for commercial refrigerator sales?
Price is definitely important but not the only factor. In commercial segment where the challenge of food retention and quality are very important clients would rather go for something that is sustainable in terms of temperature maintenance. I would say quality and reliability are two most critical factors in this business. The industry also has a large unorganized sector presence. But things are changing because clients want the right temperature and quality products.