By Nidhi Kumari
With the tagline, ‘Celebrating Indian Food’, Sabi Foods has become the chief ‘promoter of Indian Food culture’ in Australia. Covering more than 3000 food items ranging from raw ingredients, oils, spices to processed frozen foods distributed across Australia, Sabi Foods acquires around 25% of market share in Australia’s grocery industry. And the credit for it goes to, Uvaraja Hariramakrishnan popularly known as Raja. Raja’s brand Pattu has been seeping into every Indian Kitchen in Australia alongwith the varied brand that it has under its canopy.
The architect behind Sabi Foods, Raja, speaks to Indus Age where he speaks about the success of Sabi Foods, the competitive market, and more.
Sabi Foods came to Australia in 1990s and is an umbrella under which a wide range of authentic Indian products are available. Serving the Indian taste buds for more than 2 decades and rocketing.. All it takes is an idea and infinite hard work, Uvaraja Hariramakrishnan,you are an inspiring role model. What would you like to say on that?
Just started as a masala company importing and selling spices to this market, which was very difficult during that time as Australia came out of recession. Also, new entrants were not welcomed by the trade. It was almost impossible to penetrate this market. Difficult times make you work harder and my objective was to make a mark in this business in this country. I am still working towards that. Being in food, it is still challenging and it will be at all time.
Sabi foods acquires around 25% of market share in Australia’s grocery industry, signifying a noticeable advantage over other Indian retailers. Your comments on that.
I always show importance firstly on marketing, secondly on distribution, which means shelf space – this means more shops, more market share.
What has been your strategy to ensure your brand remains the favourite for consumers?
We love our brands, my team loves our brands, and thus we make our end users like them too. We take our brands seriously that they become our kids. No one will let his/her kid not come up great – thus our brands are always taken care, nurtured, to ensure they have the right growth, to be liked by everyone.
How do you look at the changes in the economic structure and its effect on your business?
Economy changes, buying pattern changes and consumer behaviour changes. This is a challenge for all business especially Food, as people get bored with food and want change. Hence, we must be on our toes at all times.
The change in weather conditions affects productivity and business as a whole. Your comments.
Yes, weather conditions affect our business directly. Last year (2016) was a tough year, where prices on many commodities went up more than double due to shortage because of weather changes. It is not just in Australia but throughout the world, including India.
What has been your approach to tackle the unpredictable market and competitive players?
Our experience over decades always helps to handle the unpredictable market. Without competition, we cannot improve – hence I love competition. Our growth is in direct proportion to competition. The best thing about food is that everyone knows it, hence many jumps into this business. We keep growing as competition grows.
Being a part of the Indian food industry, do you have any interest in cooking or are you a foodie? What inclined you to ‘Food industry’?
Honestly, I can’t cook – Maximum is making an egg. So, don’t ask anything about cooking, however I can gauge good food. This helps me in business. I will not have any product in my range if I am not convinced in quality or taste.
Why I was inclined to food industry? – It was an accident. After my graduation I was returning to India from Australia, where I was given an opportunity with my father-in-law to discuss on starting a spice business in Melbourne. Hence, I have picked this choice and here I am.
Sabi Foods has been a proud recipient of ‘the medium Business of the Year Award (2012) with many other appreciations for your brand. How does it feel?
It is always motivating to grow more and achieve more. It is a good feel to be recognized.
Your advice to young and aspiring entrepreneurs:
One liner – FOCUS ON WHAT YOU DO!
What is the next venture for Sabi foods?
Food should evolve at all time. We will also keep evolving.