From India to the World: Pickle Business - Success Story..

A pickle is traversing the globe, aided by an optimistic Chennai entrepreneur!

Irrespective of how time and technology advances, the food industry has proven to be on the forefront of the world. Identifying these irresistible business opportunities, many companies are succeeding in this sector through innovation and uniqueness.

Setting the best example of this, Freshara Agro Exports Ltd, a company from Tirupattur district, has taken pickle making business to the next level. The founder of the Freshara Agro Exports Ltd, Junaid Ahmed prepares and exports pickles from ingredients like cucumbers, baby corn and chilies. Utilizing his learnings from studies and domestic business abroad, Junaid has achieved noticeable heights in this industry. Here is his interesting journey of how Junaid started this business and expanded it to greater levels.

I studied MBA in the UK…

 “I am a Chennaite. I completed my engineering from Anna University and pursued my MBA in the UK. My father runs a construction business. When I returned to India after my studies, I took over my father’s business for a few years.

 A few years later, I decided to start my own venture. My idea was to start something unique. When I was pursuing my MBA, I realized that there was great demand for preserved vegetables and the pickled cucumber had a big market in Europe. During my research into this, I realized that many countries have had rapid growth in this food business. In India, especially, 10 years ago, no one paid much attention and showed importance to the Food Processing business. So I decided that this is the field suitable for me.

 When it comes to developing a business, it is important not to make hasty and sloppy decisions. With this field already being new and unfamiliar for me, I did not start the manufacturing company immediately. I got in touch with a few pickle-manufacturing firms and exported their products to other countries. In those two years, I learnt a lot of strategies as well as the pros and cons of the food business.

 “With my complete confidence, I decided to take the first step of starting my own manufacturing company. It was in the year 2015, with the help and support of my dad, I started the company in Velakalnatham village in Tirupattur district of Tamilnadu, with an initial investment of around Rs. 6 crores.”

Different and unique pickles..

Junaid also explained that their company produces six types of pickles, that includes ‘Hybrid Cucumbers’, babycorn, red chillies, jalapenos and other various vegetables.

In our country, pickles are natively made of various domestic vegetables and we add a lot of spices and oil to it. This is where we stand out. In our pickles, along with the vegetables, we add superior preservatives like Natural Vinegar, Pepper, White onions, garlic and pack them in a glass bottle or a metal tin. These preserved vegetables are packed as both cut and uncut products. You can eat them as they are, or they can be also used as a dressing for salads, pizzas, etc.

 The Pickles are packed in Jars and tin cans preserved by rapid heating and cooling using pasteurizer to increase their shelf-life. Therefore, unless the food is opened, it will have a longer shelf-life. Once opened, it has to be refrigerated and used within a span of a few days. We customize these pickles based on the customer requirements with different vegetables and ingredients.

 “As of now, we are making only six types of pickles. With the vegetables available in India at affordable prices across all seasons, this pickle is not very popular among the local population. But in American and European countries, as they do not have much access to certain vegetables at certain seasons, they prefer stocking these condiments. Manufacturing this type of pickle is a little more expensive than the usual ones. It costs approximately 100 Rs. for one kg”, he says as he talks about why these products are not popular in India.

“Focusing only on exports..”

 “Proper procurement of vegetables is important in this industry. Based on the pickle preparation, we only use vegetables that are fully-grown at the appropriate time. As we were new to the manufacturing industry, it took a while for us to understand all these. For almost the first three years, we procured cucumbers from the local farmers. Even as our customer base grew, and after developing the friendship and loyalty with our farmers, we started experimenting with other vegetables too.

 In Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, many farmers grow and sell vegetables only to our company. Most vegetables do not grow year-round. So, we prepare different types of pickles according to the vegetables available at that season. Hence, this type of food is getting popular in metropolitan cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Chennai. Since our products are sufficient for exports, we are not focusing on local sales for now.

“Since the beginning, we have only been doing export business. During the Russia-Ukraine war, our business increased rapidly. Taking advantage of that as a great business opportunity, we are still shipping a significant amount of our products to the Russian customers. Initially, we traded goods worth 6 crores. As the business opportunities grew, we increased our trade gradually. We will start the second production unit of our company as soon as possible. It  gives us immense happiness that our company tops the food processing business in the state.” he says happily.

Production of 16,000 tons of pickles per year...

Our company has an annual production capacity of 16,000 tonnes, exported to over 25 countries including the USA, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. With over 400 employees, we deal with a business of over 100 crores per annum. It is important to highlight that JunaidAhmed has also received the “Best Exporter” Award from the Central and the State Government. 

“My goal when I started the business was to keep our employees, farmers, distributors and our customers happy and satisfied. By making this possible, we have grown at a steady pace of 20-25% every year. Our company contributes a 10% share in India in the production of pickled cucumbers. We are working towards increasing this to 30% in the next few years; and our company will play a significant role in the food industry. We are rapidly working towards this.

 Do not deceive anyone; don’t be deceived as well. Both of these are fundamental in business. With this clarity in mind, anyone can succeed in business. Junaid Ahmed concludes with words of inspiration that “understanding the demand and trading with the right target in mind will bring success to any business”.