Parle Agro: Making Life Delicious Since 1985

The company's innovation is focused on building a self-reliant firm in every aspect, says Schauna Chauhan, CEO, Parle Agro

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Aatmanirbhar Bharat is no more just the vision of India's Prime Minister. The call for being self-reliant has found consonance with India's reigning conglomerates. Parle Agro, a legacy brand in the Indian beverage industry, has been creating innovative products and iconic brands since 1985. Today, the company's major focus is to build an innovative approach that would provide a necessary boost to India's self-reliant ecosystem.

Company

"We believe in building capabilities in India. Having the right cost, quality and raw materials in the country would strengthen businesses and would boost self-reliance," said Schauna Chauhan, CEO, Parle Agro.

The company has always believed in offering quality products at the best value to its consumers. It ensures all materials required for manufacturing its disruptive products are sourced from within India. The company's innovation is focused on building a self-reliant firm in every aspect: from taste, packaging or price, to manufacturing and sourcing raw materials to partnerships.

Parle Agro's product stable has a bevy of brands: Frooti, Appy, Appy Fizz, BFizz, SMOODH, Bailley, Bailley Soda, Dhishoom and Frio.

Current challenges

Effective July 1, the government banned single-use plastic. Since then, beverage companies have been looking for alternatives as importing paper straws is expensive. The per day requirement of straws at Parle Agro is around 16.78 million. "There was a lot of preparatory work going on while we were expecting a deadline extension for the straw ban," said Chauhan.

The company imported huge quantities of paper straws until it came up with its own infrastructure. "We have a humongous per day requirement of paper straws. There was no source available here that would have helped us with the requirement."

Even the supply of polylactic acid (PLA) straws, a bioplastic made from corn starch, wasn't enough to cater to the entire industry requirement. "So, we have developed a lot of MSME vendors and business partners who would supply us with the PLA straws. We have invested in these MSMEs that would order machines and commence the manufacturing work. However, this was a challenge as the minimum delivery time of these machines is three months."

Talking about government regulations and its impact on industries, the CEO said, "There is a lot going on in the industry, one of the most important things we are requesting the government is to make things investor friendly."

Supply chain crisis

The wider geopolitical implications and renewed COVID-19 restrictions have compounded an already depleted global supply chain. Global logistics will have to contend with an increasing number of risk factors, including restrictions to airspace, uncertainty on the future path of consumer demand and ongoing bottlenecks related to COVID-19 response, said a JP Morgan research report.

"The ongoing supply chain crisis has led to a lot of delays. We import a lot of equipment and to get things on time, we have shortened our planning tenure. This supply chain disruption caused a lot of delays while we were getting the paper straws imported. Amid the row surrounding the ban, we planned beforehand so we could get those materials on time," the CEO added.

Expansion plans

The brand continues to aggressively adopt new strategies and innovative initiatives in order to connect with its consumers. A large part of its growth strategy is driven by sales, distribution and manufacturing capabilities. The company has an international presence in over 50 countries and has a network of 84 state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities, states the company website.

Having such a wide presence doesn't stop the conglomerate from expanding any further. "We started a manufacturing unit in Angola this year and last year we commenced a unit in Bahrain. These two outlets are specialized in manufacturing Frooti and Appy."

In India, the firm already has 14 manufacturing locations and the company is bullish about opening one more plant in Vijayawada. "Within four years we look forward to expanding to Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh."

Annually, the company procures 170,000 tonnes of mangoes for Frooti and around 60,000 tonnes of apples for Appy Fizz and Appy.