The FMCG segment of the corporation of CG Corp Global was established in 1984 to manufacture instant noodles in Kathmandu. CG Foods and its iconic flagship brand ‘WAI WAI’ soon managed to become a market leader in Nepal. The unique selling point of the noodles is its ready-to-eat feature that is loved by boarders and travelers making WAI WAI an eponym for noodles. After becoming increasingly popular in the mighty Mount Everest nation, the brand soon started spreading its wings to the global platforms starting from India.
The noodle brand was first introduced in India via exports in the 1990s. Today, it has become one of the fastest-growing instant-noodle companies with more than 30 percent CAGR and 25 percent market share (some states own more than 60 percent shares). Given its unique taste and ability to grab a significant market share in both urban and rural areas of India, the brand has developed a strong foothold in the North-East, Sikkim, and North Bengal and it has now jumped on to the wave of popularity in other states as well. Spreading its wings further, WAI WAI noodles have also paved a path to reach more than 48 countries across the globe recording a global sales of 2.8 billion packets. It has manufacturing plants based in Nepal, India, Serbia, Kazakhstan, Bangladesh, and Egypt with a global market share of 3 percent.
Pandemic and Its Impact
The unforeseen outbreak of COVID-19 managed to halt the world economy; it also forced the emerging market and developing countries, many of which face daunting vulnerabilities, to strengthen up and address the challenges posed by the pandemic. The resultant lockdown has given rise to a shift in consumer preferences and one of the emerging trends in the growing demand for Convenience Foods.
Elaborating on the impact of a pandemic, Varun Chaudhary, Executive Director, CG Corp Global says, “I’ll break the impact of pandemic into two phases - during the lockdown and post lockdown. In lockdown I’ll further break it into two phases - when the lockdown was announced people were in a state of dilemma and confusion as to where are we heading. None of us had an answer to what could be the possible solution to this. But the measure that the Indian Government took in making the essentials, and other food industries opened in a programmed manner helped us quite a bit. We were running at negligible capacities keeping in mind the social distancing and health norms. Over a period of time, we gradually started scaling up our capabilities, reaching a good momentum, and getting good numbers. When the lockdowns were completely lifted, that’s when the whole phenomenon of people coming out of their houses, restaurants opening - a kind of normality took place. We did see a bit of a slowdown, however, our team remained charged, and here I’m talking about only the food industry and not mentioning any other sectors, therefore, we feel ‘WAI WAI’ as a brand has sustained, and on the contrary, we’re on a growth trajectory so to speak.”
Foraying Into New Category
Recognizing the same shift in the business ecosystem channeled by the changes in preferences of consumers because of the COVID-19 pandemic, CG Foods has restructured its approach to be in better sync with the changing market dynamics. Hence, to add another dimension, the company has begun manufacturing and selling pre-packaged sauces including WAI WAI Green and Red Chilli Sauce and WAI WAI Schezwan Chunky Sauce making Wai Wai, not just a noodle brand. The production of the sauces will be through an OEM or original equipment manufacturing company route and will be produced in India and rolled out for sale here and for its global market as well.
“We just launched our sauces, and the response we got is encouraging. We have launched Green Chilli, Red Chilli, and Schezwan and now we’re launching three more next week. We’re getting into similar brand synergistic products. It will be too primitive for me to announce, I think we’ll have to meet every quarter I can keep updating you probably,” shares Chaudhary.
“Let the sauces stabilize, right after that, maybe by March. Probably after that every month or two, we’ll launch new products and categories. So hopefully by the end of this year, we’ll have a basket of a multitude of products. We are looking at other savory products or rather I should say ready-to-eat products,” he further adds.
In the coming financial year, CG Foods has planned multiple launches on a variety of convenience foods which will be launched in a phased manner. Such as the next plant in its expansion pipeline is Guwahati to start by March 2021 followed by Ajmer in June 2021 and then Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh by September the same year.
“We are adding in West and East. Looking at how things are we may add in the South as well. It’s a pan-India capacity expansion,” states Chaudhary.
Betting Big on India
India is an encouraging and robust market for CG Corp Global. This is where the brand sees tremendous growth.
“I feel the future is healthy here, at least for the vertical we are in,” shares Chaudhary.
At present, East and North-East are the biggest contributor of revenue for the brand. However, the brand plans to make a dent into Tier-2 and 3 cities, which means, they will be adding further capacities near these cities and other parts of India.