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Published on: March 12, 2021, 4:36 p.m.
Saraf Foods’ ‘fruit’ful venture
  • Shikha with father Suresh Saraf: ‘our goal is to become a global leader’

By Hemang Palan

Saraf Foods, a Vadodara-based small-to-medium-sized food-processer, has been specialising in air-drying, freeze-drying and individually quick-frozen technology (IQF). It is now strategising to achieve an annual turnover of Rs100 crore by 2023. 

Established in 1991, Saraf Foods is growing at a CAGR of over 18 per cent today. Its specialty of freeze-drying of food products covers fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices, including bananas, mangoes, sapota (chiku), sweet corn, green peas, onion, bitter gourd and green peppercorn. The end-users of these products include the functional F&B industry, the pet food industry as well as the pharma industry, worldwide. The products are segmented, based on the source, application and region.

The company’s clients include leading multinationals, including many ‘Fortune 500’ companies. With its exclusive focus on the freeze-drying process for the last 20-odd years, Saraf Foods has acquired the skills to apply this technology to a number of food products, from fruits, vegetables and herbs, to nutraceuticals like aloe vera, neem, amla, tulsi, turmeric and many others. It has got the largest capacity for freeze-drying in India and is a major exporter of food processing ingredients to Europe and North America. Over 60 per cent of the company’s turnover comes from overseas markets.

 Changing perception

“Our goal is to become a global leader in the processed foods sector by delivering high quality ingredients to Indian as well as foreign companies through the use of world-class manufacturing practices,” says Shikha Saraf-Patel, director, Saraf Foods. “With the onset of Covid-19, we have seen a change in people’s perception towards pre-packaged food. They are now more receptive to accepting it. The general notion in our country has always been that processed food is not healthy, which is not entirely true. Thankfully, with changing times and awareness, people have started realising and appreciating this. Young consumers with disposable incomes and a jet-set lifestyle have reached a tipping point, where they are demanding easy solutions from the products they buy. Consumers are focussing on buying snacks in simple consumable forms that are healthy, natural and free of preservatives, with longer shelf life and are lightweight to carry along.”

“Saraf Foods has also a dream to see India achieve food security, which is vital for the nation’s progress,” she adds. “By doing its bit, Saraf Foods is committed to providing hygienic food products in India and the rest of the world.” 

A first-generation woman entrepreneur, Saraf-Patel has a degree in Business Economics from Cardiff University. She studied management at the Indian School of Business before joining Saraf Foods, which was promoted by her father Suresh Saraf. Saraf-Patel has also promoted the Halo brand of freeze-dried fruit snacks as a separate vertical of Saraf Foods.

“From the day I joined our family business at Saraf Foods, I have always dreamt of introducing freeze-dried strawberries to Indian consumers and their children – so that they could experience the same joy I had as a child,” reminisces Saraf-Patel. “I realised that, by leveraging our core business at Saraf, we could allow consumers to enjoy all of their favourite fruits as freeze-dried snacks – from strawberries, to mangoes and pineapples! My passion for freeze-dried fruit snacks motivated me to create Halo, which brings you the freshest Indian fruits as freeze-dried snacks. Halo products are 100 per cent natural without any preservatives, additives or sugar.”

Saraf Foods plans to launch more variants of Indian fruits in the near future. “Not restricting ourselves only to fruits, we will also come with other unique variations soon. While our main focus will be sales through online portals, we will have an offline presence too, but that would be at a later phase.”

Saraf Foods’ products are used in manufacturing of high-fibre breakfast cereals and health foods by New Delhi-headquartered FMCG food-manufacturing company, Bagrrys India. “Saraf Foods has truly been a pioneer in the space of freeze-drying technology in India,” says Aditya Bagri, director, Bagrrys group.

Deepak Shahdadpuri, managing director, DSG Consumer Partners, a Singapore-based consumer focus fund, which has invested in Saraf Foods, foresees a bright future for the Halo brand launched by the company in India. Adds Atul Dhanani, director, Pedoria Limited – a British firm headquartered in Hertfordshire in the UK: “I am delighted to note the progress made by Saraf Foods in the past few years in its novel concept of cultivating crop required for the food processing activities under a contract farming arrangement in Gujarat state.”

Saraf Foods has also been actively engaged in helping thousands of farmers across the rural areas of Gujarat’s Vadodara district to grow crops using sustainable agricultural practices that protect the environment. The company grows its products in fine quality soils, with the support of its expert team.

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