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Food Taken in the Right Quantity & Time Works as a Medicine

Bikanervala, now synonymous with Indian sweets and snacks, began its journey in 1905. It all started with a small sweet shop called Bikaner Namkeen Bhandar, situated in the old city area of Kote Gate in Bikaner. Shri Lal Chand Agarwal laid the foundation, initially offering a modest selection of sweets and namkeen tailored to the tastes of Bikaneris. The shop quickly gained acceptance and thrived.

In 1950, buoyed by their success in Bikaner, two brothers from the Agarwal family embarked on a new venture. They established a branch of Bikaner Namkeen Bhandar in Delhi’s bustling Chandini Chowk. Drawing from treasured family recipes passed down through generations, they introduced the capital to a unique culinary experience.

Renowned for delicacies like Moong Dal Halwa, Bikaneri Bhujia, and Kaju Katli, the shop soon earned the moniker “Bikanervala” among the locals, thus giving birth to a new identity.

With the name catching on and the reputation spreading, Bikanervala’s fame grew. To meet the escalating demand, they expanded, transitioning from a mere sweet shop to a full-fledged establishment serving fresh vegetarian meals.

Today, Bikanervala boasts over 60 outlets across India and a presence in several countries, including Canada, USA, New Zealand, Singapore, Nepal, Qatar, and the UAE.

Having achieved success in both sweets and restaurant ventures, the Agarwal family recognized the opportunity to bring traditional Indian offerings to Indians worldwide. This vision culminated in the birth of the brand “Bikano,” marking a transformative moment for the industry and themselves.

Navratan Aggarwal, MD of Bikanervala Foods, recently spoke exclusively to The Interview World, emphasizing the crucial role of food as medicine. He discussed market competition, highlighting its role in driving innovation and positioning their brand as a leader in the snacks industry. Additionally, he outlined his strategic expansion plan and growth projections. Here are the key takeaways from his insightful interview.

Q: What strategies or factors have enabled you to maintain your position as a leader in the Indian snacks industry, despite facing competition from numerous market entrants?

A: Our competitors aren’t just competitors; they’re complements to our business. They bring fresh perspectives, innovative ideas, and new visions. Take, for instance, when Maruti introduces an innovation in the automotive sector, Mercedes responds with its advancements. Similarly, in the snacks industry, when competitors launch new products or introduce innovations, we strive to provide even better options for our consumers.

These market players support our ongoing innovation in product offerings. Understanding the market’s dynamics, we continuously adapt to deliver superior quality products. Competitors’ presence acts as a catalyst for our innovation.

Furthermore, we don’t adhere to the concept of ranking as number one, two, or three. What truly matters is the quality of the food we provide to our customers. Our foremost responsibility is to deliver nutritious and high-quality food. Our primary aim is to meet our customers’ needs effectively.

Q: What specific innovative approaches is your organization implementing to enhance both the quality and sustainability of food?

A: Our R&D team actively engages in research, development, innovation, and packaging, consistently providing us with fresh ideas and innovations for experimenting with new foods and versatile offerings. We not only focus on Indian cuisine but also keep an eye on global food trends to deliver superior quality and healthier options to our customers.

For instance, during the challenges posed by COVID-19, spices such as cloves, nutmeg, and mace proved invaluable in alleviating symptoms. These spices, long used in Ayurvedic medicines, possess medicinal properties that aid in treating various ailments. Upon closer examination of our spice inventory, it becomes evident that many possess significant health benefits. Ingredients like sugar, found in dishes like halwa, provide essential energy. Delving deeper into our ingredients, it’s apparent that they hold medicinal value.

In today’s context, food holds immense importance. We aim to ensure that after consuming our products, customers feel uplifted, not discomforted. Therefore, it is our foremost responsibility to prioritize the health and well-being of our customers by consistently delivering high-quality food products.

Q: What’s your opinion on food as a form of medicine?

A: Eating the right foods helps maintain good health, while overeating can lead to sickness. Consuming meals at appropriate times prevents health issues, whereas late eating can cause digestive problems. For instance, in Jainism, eating after sunset is discouraged because the body struggles to digest food at that time. Therefore, it’s advisable to eat before sunset to avoid such complications.

Food serves as a form of medicine when consumed in the right amounts and at the right times. Proteins, for example, are essential for muscle health. However, it’s crucial not to overindulge in foods rich in proteins and ghee, as balance is key. It’s important to consume only what our bodies can comfortably digest.

Since all food ingredients are derived from nature, they inherently possess beneficial qualities. Each natural component carries some form of medicinal value. Opting for natural, healthy foods promotes overall well-being. Consuming such foods late at night can impede digestion, emphasizing the importance of engaging in light physical activity before bedtime to aid digestion.

Q: What strategies are you considering for expanding your business?

A: Recently, we constructed a 25-acre factory to supply salted snacks to PepsiCo. Presently, we distribute Bikano products to Mother Dairy. Our network comprises approximately 175-200 outlets. Additionally, we operate seven to eight large factories across India. Moreover, we have expanded our operations to Dubai, where we manage 20 outlets. Notably, all Emirates flights serve our food to passengers. Our aspiration is for our sweets to be cherished globally. What’s fascinating is receiving calls from people praising our food. The aforementioned 25-acre factory was completed in just 11 months, making it one of India’s largest food sector establishments near Jewar Airport. Furthermore, we’ve recently inaugurated another factory in Hyderabad under the name of Bikano.

Q: What is the current scope of your operations across countries, and what strategic initiatives do you have in place for future geographic expansion?

A: We distribute namkeen or salted snacks across numerous countries worldwide. However, our goal is to further broaden our geographic reach across several additional countries. In places such as Dubai and Kathmandu, where the number of restaurants and factories is relatively low, we see an opportunity for expansion. Furthermore, we currently have outlets established in New Jersey and Oakland, USA. Our global presence is continually expanding as we strive to reach new markets and customers.

Q: What are your projected growth expectations for the next five years?

A: We aim for consistent year-on-year growth of 15-20%. Additionally, our focus lies on ensuring the freshness of our food offerings and catering to the preferences of younger consumers. It’s crucial that our food not only supports them but also provides energy and high quality.

Today, the priority is providing food that promotes good health among our customers. Heavy meals can be problematic, and both overeating and undereating can have adverse effects on our bodies. Opting for a balanced diet is always beneficial. Individuals engaged in physically demanding work require more food to sustain their energy levels. Conversely, excessive food intake without sufficient physical activity can be detrimental to health. Taking all these health considerations into account, we introduce innovative food options into the market. Presently, our offerings include Madrasi namkeen, cookies, and a variety of chocolates.

Assortment of Indian Sweets by Bikanervala for Celebrating Moments
Assortment of Indian Sweets by Bikanervala for Celebrating Moments
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