To meet the nutritional needs while striving on good taste without sparing much time on preparing the food during their time-bound daily schedules, Indian consumers have been showing increasing dependence on ready-to-cook and frozen foods alternatives, over the past decade. Paying heed to this trend, Akshay Nayak spoke to Mithun Appaiah, CEO of Sumeru, to know the brand’s legacy as one of the pioneers in the frozen foods market since the past 30 years
The story behind Sumeru in the frozen food market?
Sumeru is a 30-year-old brand and we have been one of the pioneers in the frozen foods space. Being a homegrown brand, we are based out of Kochi, Kerala and over the years have reached throughout the expanse of the country and to 15 nations in the world, with our wide range of vegetarian and non-vegetarian variants of frozen foods.
What is the USP of Sumeru?
As our parent brand name reads, Innovative Foods (IFL), we are constantly including new innovative solutions, not only in our menu but also the overall process to get the product there. We invest a lot in technology to ensure the food maintains its texture and has longevity on the shelf. One of our USPs is also customisation of frozen foods for the HoReCa space. Apart from that, Sumeru uniquely combines innovation along with the use of healthy ingredients like Turmeric, millets, Methi (Fenugreek), lean meats – like chicken and seafood; healthier cooking methods, for example, roasting v/s deep frying to create its products. Our newly launched range of Gourmet Premium Products is created in collaboration with 13-time Michelin star chef, Chef Alfred Prasad. Furthermore, our kebab and paratha ranges are curated by Master Chef India judge Chef Ajay Chopra. Also, we ensure that our products are made from healthy premium ingredients and are largely free from any preservatives and stabilisers.
Sumeru is a reputed frontline partner which tailors convenient food solutions to a number of quick service restaurants (QSRs) such as McDonald’s, KFC, Dominos, Subway, Pizza Hut, Dunkin Donuts, Marry Brown, etc. We offer various products comprising frozen Indian breads, frozen wraps and rolls, frozen curries, frozen breaded products, frozen quick bites, a variety of frozen pastas, lasagna, and more. We maintain accurate in-house quality control with renowned certifications including FSSC 22000, SQMS, and Halal. We have also been audited and certified by some of the country’s leading QSRs. Our nationwide distribution network and branch offices ensure consistent supply to all tiers of cities across the country.
How has the frozen foods market been for Sumeru?
The market has been great for us as we delivered a healthy 30 per cent top line growth rate and launched 20 new stock keeping units (SKUs) in the year 2018. Moving forward, the retail business has been a key driver with 75 per cent of the total business coming from this space, while 12-15 per cent of business is contributed by the HoReCa space in India. We have a good supply of breaded fish, among other frozen food supplies across various hotel chains in the country. The remaining 10-12 per cent comes from the export business.
What is the way ahead for Sumeru in the frozen foods space?
We have been and will further, likely, bring out a new healthier range of frozen foods with the inclusion of certain superfoods in the ingredients. We are also looking to include a frozen range of organic peas and chana in our portfolio. But, the only drawback of organic is that it is highly priced which would gradually make the packaged product expensive as well. We are looking to strategise it correctly. We at Sumeru as a brand are looking at providing curated solutions in the organic products range and interesting Indian meals solutions. We will also invest in technology as in the past we saw great results in quality management through spiral freezing technology and data monitoring systems to keep a track on the quality. We are eyeing to increase our business in the HoReCa segment as many hotels and restaurants are now using frozen foods in lots of their creations. We are already providing them with competitively priced products without compromising on the quality. Sumeru is preferred by various international QSR brands, and with all the infrastructure and certifications in place, we will further strengthen our presence in both the domestic and international frozen foods market.