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Corporate Report

Published on: Nov. 3, 2022, 2:17 p.m.
Cremica Foods spreads its wings
  • Akshay: We are quite bullish on the domestic market

By Arbind Gupta. Assistant Editor, Business India

Cremica Foods Industries Ltd (CFIL) is one of the fastest growing players in the premium quality liquid condiment space, manufacturing and selling categories like mayonnaise and sauces under the iconic brand, Mrs Bector’s Cremica. The New Delhi-headquartered processed food entity is a preferred vendor to some of the largest fast food giants like McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, KFC, Domino’s and Subway. 

CFIL is a spun-off entity of the Rs1,000-crore Mrs Bector’s Food Specialities Ltd which is one of the leading companies in the premium and mid-premium biscuits and bakery segment in North India. In 2015, Akshay Bector, the second son of Rajni Bector who started the family business way back in 1978 in Ludhiana, decided to set up a separate company with his family’s mayonnaise and sauces business, while the biscuits and bakery business remained with his younger brother, Anoop Bector, currently the managing director of the listed entity Mrs Bector’s Food Specialities Ltd. 

CFIL, backed by its premium quality mayonnaise and sauces business, has kept the business momentum going. The company’s operation has witnessed a big surge post Covid, as it looks to end the current fiscal year at around Rs350 crore from Rs250 crore in FY22. Having launched India’s first vegetarian mayonnaise, the company, which is the country’s largest producer of ketchup portion packs (and is capable of packing 3 million sachets per year) is looking to become a Rs1,000-crore business in the next 5-6 years. Apart from ramping up its existing categories, it is also getting into new categories like snacks, pickles and beverages. 

“Mrs Bector’s Cremica is a well-known brand in our existing categories. Now we want to ramp up this business in a big way, even as we are looking to get into newer categories. We have been known for innovations, unique recipes, health-oriented ingredients and high-quality standards, and going ahead, we intend to replicate these attributes into other categories in order to scale up our overall operations. We are quite bullish on the domestic market which is shaping up quite well for our business,” says Akshay Bector, managing director, CFIL, who is also looking to take this business public with an IPO in the next 2-3 years. 

The company manufactures high quality liquid condiments, Indian gravies/curries, tomato ketchup, sauces, sandwich spreads, mayonnaise, syrups, toppings, salad dressings, Indian snack dips, fruit fillings for cakes and pastries as well as desserts for retail and food service customers. It is also into potato crisps. Called Opera crisps, these are India’s first cottage style potato crisps. Moreover, its sandwich mayonnaise, with Indian flavours like tandoori, mint, tangy pickle and korma, is also very popular among customers. 

An array of offerings

In total, CFIL is present across eight categories and 85 SKUs. Backed by a workforce of 700 people across three processing facilities in Himachal Pradesh, Ludhiana and Greater Noida, CFIL has a total capacity of 60,000 tonnes per annum of liquid condiments. In fact, the company runs India’s largest liquid condiment line. It has a capacity of 10 tonnes per hour.

  • The company is the country’s largest producer of ketchup portion packs

In order to quickly enlarge its offering, the company, which earns 65 per cent of its revenue from the HORECA segment and 35 per cent from retail, has tied up with Great Giant Foods (GGF) for pineapple and fruit bits. GGF is the brand entity of Indonesia’s Gunung Sewu Group. It is a leading, vertically integrated food player that cultivates, manufactures and delivers fresh and processed fruits, juice, meat, and dairy.

Each of GGF’s business units has been established with the principle of sustainable integrated farming in mind. It is a modern manufacturing company. Today, through its affiliates, partners, and representative offices in Asia, Europe, Middle East and the US, GGF delivers food products and agricultural commodities to the global market. 

Besides, CFIL has also tied up with a South India-based company for pickles (gherkins, jalapenos, etc) and with a European company for authentic Italian durum wheat pasta. The company is also planning to set up one more facility near Delhi where it will have a liquid condiment capacity of five tonnes per hour as also frozen food capacity of 2 tonnes per hour. 

As part of its business expansion, CFIL, in 2019, set up a mega food park in Una, Himachal Pradesh where one of its processing facilities, making tomato paste and purée, is also situated. The company has invested Rs110 crore in this 55-acre food processing park which has come up under the Union government’s Mega Food Park Scheme.

Apart from its tomato processing unit, there are currently five more processing units here, put up by other companies. The mega food park has an advanced central processing units with a capacity of over 30 tonnes per hour, along with an aseptic pulping line with India’s first flash steriliser.

“The mega food park has been developed as one of the finest food processing infrastructure facilities, providing world class infrastructure and technology to enterprises engaged in the food processing industry. It provides a platform for establishing backward and forward linkages, covering the entire food processing value chain and implementation of best practices in post-harvest management. We are expecting more units to come up going forward,” says Bector. 

A Bachelor in Engineering from MIT Manipal, Bector has played a big role in expanding his family business which was started in 1978 by his mother Rajni Bector (awarded the Padma Shri last year for her contribution to the promotion and sustainable growth of trade and industry) who turned her passion for making ice-cream into a small backyard enterprise.

The Cremica Group has established itself as a huge food products conglomerate, leading the food processing business through its range of products, innovative flavours and fillings.

Bector was also instrumental in setting up an automatic bread plant in 1989 for his family business (now led by Mrs Bector’s Food Specialities Ltd). He expanded the business into biscuits and in 1993 signed a 50:50 JV for sauces and blends with Quaker Oats USA (this became Mrs Bector’s Food Specialities Ltd after the termination of the JV). In 1995 he signed a JV with EBI Foods, UK for manufacturing batter and breading pre-mixtures, including signing up with McDonalds for the supply of these products as well as buns. 

  • The company has world class infrastructure and technology

The company has become a leading supplier to McDonalds. The business model of Mrs Bector’s Food Specialities Ltd also attracted the attention of PE players. Goldman Sachs invested in 2006, and its stake was later bought over by Motilal Oswal Private Equity in 2010. In 2015, Linus, Mabel, GW Confectionary and GW Crown acquired a stake in the company. In the same year, the family saw the amicable separation of the business between Akshay and his younger brother. 

After the separation in 2015, Bector has been ramping up its already proven family mayonnaise and sauces business under a separate entity, CFIL. He has diversified into other food categories in order to scale up the overall business. The domestic packaged food industry has been showing traction of late on account of rising incomes, urbanisation, favourable demographics and changing lifestyles. 

Experts are of the view that consumers are increasing shifting towards packaged and branded products, given the growing concern for food safety and the inclination towards hygienically packaged products. This shift has been further accelerated by the Covid pandemic and is expected to continue in the future.

The perception of packaged foods is changing among consumers as there has been a significant rise in the convenience, availability and affordability of such products. Besides, the emergence of modern retail and online grocery delivery platforms has also gone a long way in building up the entire ecosystem.

With all these developments in place, CFIL is well positioned to ramp up its operations in a big way. Though as an entity, CFIL appears to be a relatively new player, the business is inherited from a proven family enterprise which has a well-established track record. The company has all the required ingredients to emerge as a significant player in the market.

It is an approved vendor to big global food chains and hence well accepted in the HORECA segment where it supplies over 60 per cent of its production. The company is building up its presence in the retail segment by ramping up its offerings in terms of categories and SKUs. With all these initiatives in place, it seems to be well geared up to commence its next growth phase.

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