"Modi Apples" Sell Like Hot Cakes

From providing Apples, Grapes and Mangoes from a certain part of the country to where these are most needed, to handling the entire supply chain, IG International has its hands full.
“Modi Apples” Sell Like Hot Cakes

The Retailer Media caught up with Tarun Arora, Director, IG International, talks about the importing, exporting and handling of domestic supply chains of fresh produce by a company that was started by his father in 1965.

Talk to us about the background of your company.

It’s a five decade old company started by my father, the foundation of it was laid by him in 1965. We are completing 50 years this year. We started the business by taking Apples from a certain part of India to somewhere it was needed, before adding Grapes and Mangoes to the portfolio. During the liberalisation in 1999, we were allowed to import fresh produce from around the world. Today IG International is one of the biggest companies to handle fresh produce in India. Making substantial investments into cold chains, we are now the second largest player with around 40,000 pallet capacity, and 14 different cold storages across India with 27 wholesale outlets. Adding to that, we are also one of the largest exporters of Grapes and Potatoes from India. For domestic business, we buy out produce from farmers and put it across all our outlets. The intent is to come full circle of the entire supply chain, actually.

Your business is helping the entire retail business, per say, from a larger perspective.

The Indian fresh produce industry had bottlenecks 10 years back, the efficiencies of the supply chains have improved significantly. I’ll give you an example of that. When we supply to Walmart, from the time we pick up the produce till the time it is delivered, the temperatures are maintained, so it is end-to-end. So, the supply chain bottlenecks are slowly seen getting eliminated.

What is the process of managing the supply chain at your end?

I’ll explain all the three models. As far as imports go, we get the containers first, they arrive at the ports where we have our own traders, then traders get them to our own cold storages, from there we have our own logistics from where the produce is taken to different cities, where we have our own outlets and walking cold rooms from where they are sold.

Coming to exports, we buy from farmers, take it to our warehouses, we sought it out, pack it really well, we pre-cool it before putting them out to our containers, then deliver it to our customers in Europe or in Russia.

For domestic supply chains, we directly pick it from the farmers, and it directly goes into our wholesale outlets where it gets sold.

Supermarkets you have tied up with?

Walmart, Lulu and Spar. The biggest sector still remains mom-and-pop stores, which have wholesalers and fruit sellers in these markets, which make for a bigger category for us. For instance, in Delhi there is Khan market, INA, etc. So, we are focused on the wholesalers in these big markets around the country and then there are supermarkets we cater to.

Talk to us about the sourcing of fruits.

Nashik is the biggest belt for Grapes. Himachal and Kashmir are places where we are sourcing our Apples from.  Banans are from Jalgaon and Chholapur. Potatoes we do from Indore and Agra. The international sourcing works when a certain fruit is not available here, I can’t source Grapes when they are here cheap, I can only import them when it is an off season. California becomes a very big market for Grapes for us. Apples we import from Chile, because the opportunity remains in Southern Hemisphere, and from Europe, as they can contain the fruit for a little longer. South Africa for pears. But the biggest markets are US and Europe.

How do you market your brand?

We do paper advertisements. We are quite dynamic when it comes to marketing. This time, we launched the “Modi Apple” and we have a campaign around it too. We do road shows, put up hoardings, do radio jingles, and then we use the print media and magazines to reach our customer base in wholesalers and supermarkets.

How are you leveraging the e-commerce space?

We are not doing e-commerce on our own but most of our products are there on BigBasket and we are selling them through them. I’d like to add here, we don’t do any pre-packing at the source. Our labels are very well mentioned in bulk packing. We just give it to the supermarkets and they pack it to deliver it to the final customer.

Tarun Arora