For over 25 years, Anju Enterprises has brought in authentic Asian flavours to French and European market. Having built a strong distribution network across Europe, they take pride in the sturdy relations with each of their suppliers and customers. As the next generation now successfully brings its expertise to the business, the family sits together to talk about their strategies, challenges and benefits of the two generations working together.
How has the Indian food industry fared in Europe? What are the challenges that you have seen for the Indian foods ?
VK Malhotra: Since I started with my wife, things have changed. We are not any more interacting with ethnic markets only.
The challenge today is to find the right balance between old and new generations of ethnic populations here in Europe and local people. Today, as a distributor, we sell to Indian and Pakistani shops but also to mainstream supermarkets. The needs and constraints are not the same but we have to make sure that the same product can be sold to the corner shop or the hypermarkets chain where quality, packaging and food safety is a must.
Anjila Malhotra Monge: Indian food industry is expanding and structuring itself. It is learning to adapt to the European markets. Also, the needs and wants are more and more specific. People are looking for more elaborate products. There is a need to take care of all European tastes and eating habits.
Emmanuel Monge: The continental European market is growing and it is getting structured. It is no more in isolation. The market has to represent the trends of India: it is made of different countries and cultures. Moreover, food habits are changing slowly, with a need of quality items and a diverse choice, despite the price factor which is still important nowadays. In France, we all now have to deal with the wants of the 2nd or 3rd generations of Indian customers, and new comers. We see also the catering business going through a small revolution.
Today, restaurants try to adapt to this demand and respond to this need by bringing a modern gist to traditional authenticity. Obviously, all those phenomena influence our way to manage. The core business is changing. We are moving further and further away from “trading” towards “marketing”.
To what extent do Indian food and beverages remain competitive in the market ?
Anjila Malhotra Monge: Today, the situation is complex. Indian exporters have to learn to reach international standards while remaining competitive. They are practicing same level of prices as European markets – whether they have same constraints or not.
Therefore, Indian food and beverages are no more as competitive as they used to be. Several reasons are given, among which are scarcity of row material and expansion of domestic markets.Local market is very beneficial and effortless for them.
However, the will to export is obvious on their end. It is fairly new for them to adapt to international standards and constraints. This is where the true challenge is.
We have to compose with their constraints and guide them to find adapted solutions for them to remain competitive with today’s parameters.
What is the right strategy for them to make headway ? How does Anju help them in this ?
VK Malhotra: There is not one strategy to success here. We are proud to say that we build strong relations with each of our suppliers and we help them build their strategy to integrate European market.
Emmanuel Monge: In France, we are at the strategic place to see European dynamics.So we share with them our sharp expertise and guide them step by step from the very beginning because each brand has to adapt to specific market constraints when it comes to quality, packaging, and brand positioning.
What are the main highlights of Anju’s growth since last SIAL in2012? Which are the new product launches and what are the other novelties launched by you? Which have been the best selling products from the Anju stable ?
Emmanuel Monge: We always look one step further to answer to the market needs. Anticipation is our forte! We have been concentrating on France while expanding our aura on Europe as well.
Past years have been dedicated to strategising on new opportunities but also on structuring our company and expanding our team. One of the latest news is the arrival of my sister-in-law, Anne Malhotra, in the company.
After successful experiences within Publicis Group in Project Management and at Sephora in European Marketing and Strategy, she decided to join us. It’s been above a year now that she has been working in Communications with me. With her, I have developed Corporate Communications along with Branding and PR.
VK Malhotra: When my son-in-law arrived in Anju, the first file he chose to open was the Anju Mango Pulp. He launched it and gave it its own identity. It has been so far one of our best sellers !
What are your plans for the next five years in terms of adding products, new distribution outlets and new manufacturing/sourcing capacities ?
Emmanuel Monge: Well, we strive to take Anju to new heights. Concerning our plans for the future, you know how we like giving surprises !
How do you perceive the ban on Indian mango in the EU ? What prompted it and is food safety a major issue with Indian products? Are Indian manufacturers now more serious about quality standards ?
Anjila Malhotra Monge: Today, we work in a globalized world where food has to grow and travel from one country to the other in risk-free conditions to enable perfect food safety.
Alphonso mangoes were banned from Europe along with four vegetables coming from India after consignments were found to be infested with pest and fruit flies. Food safety was endangered. When European Commission representatives visited India in 2013, they found the system of export controls failed to meet international standards.
Emmanuel Monge: The ban has pressured India to abide by new standards and certification requirements from product quality to labeling regulations. India being a key trading partner for Europe, they are trying to work hand in hand with Indian organizations to help them implement required procedures.
On our end, we have kept the same philosophy. We try to help our suppliers and guide them so they can follow the pace of Europe when it comes to food safety. Our suppliers are taking the matter seriously to improve our relations and the opportunities to conquer European market.
How are the different generations working together ? Are there any challenges linked to this transition ?
VK Malhotra: My children are the new generation: fast and bold. My elder daughter, Anjila, joined the family business more than ten years ago. She has a strong sense of business and finance.
A few years later, I asked my sonin- law, Emmanuel, to join. It has been over seven years now. I knew he is clear-sighted and audacious. He could bring structure to our company. He started in Marketing and quickly took over the Strategy and Development of the company. Finally, my younger daughter, Anne, joined the team last year to develop Anju’s Communications. I feel lucky and blessed: all my children are in the business. They are taking further what my wife and I put in place so I can focus on buying and supply. The transition is on and done as we are all working together. Together, we have a clear vision of how to make our business grow in today’s world.
Anne Malhotra: Being the newcomer in the family business, what impressed me is the strong team spirit! Working together has its challenges but the key is to find a balance between experience and knowledge.
We complement each other with our different backgrounds to make stronger decisions. What is amazing about different generations working together is that we can take the best of it all !