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June 21, 2024
Food Beverages Processing | India no 1 Food Processing Magazine

Griffith David – Founder & CEO, Habanero Foods

Give us a brief overview of Habanero.

My food business journey began with Subway outlets where I was on the Subway marketing board. Interestingly, in 2015, the Bangalore airport Subway was recognised as the number 1 Subway in the world. Being there I got the idea of exploring and introducing authentic Mexican flavors to India with Habanero. This idea gave rise to the chain of authentic Mexican restaurants known as Habanero across the country expanding to Chennai, Hyderabad, and Goa. 

Customers in our restaurants would always want to take away our popular dips, tortillas and salsas to their homes and thus, the idea of Habanero retail products. With Habanero, we focus on helping people ‘Cook like a Chef’ at home, offering ready-to-cook sauces, dips, salsa, and tortilla wraps, all full-flavoured, vegan, and gluten-free. Headquartered in Bangalore, we aim to provide international-quality flavours at affordable prices. Our products are available in 1200+ stores across 19 cities and online platforms. From Peri-Peri Sauce to Spinach Tortilla Wraps, and dips our lineup caters to diverse tastes. Sustainability has always been crucial for us at Habanero—we hire locally, source ingredients from nearby farms, and use recyclable glass jars. At Habanero, it’s more than food; it’s a journey blending tradition, innovation, and a love for delightful culinary experiences.

Tell us about the inspiration behind the “Habanero” brand launch and the difficulties you faced.

I believe that Embarking on the journey of launching the “Habanero” brand was fueled by a desire to bring authentic Mexican flavours to India. Inspired during one of my work trips, the idea took root, leading to the inception of Habanero in Bangalore. The difficulty lay in navigating a new industry – transitioning from the tech world to food. The challenges were both invigorating and demanding. Understanding the intricacies of the food business, especially in a diverse market like India, presented a learning curve. From establishing a Mexican restaurant to expanding our footprint, every step brought its set of hurdles. However, these challenges fueled our determination to offer a genuine and delightful culinary experience.

Crafting Habanero sauces and wraps emerged as a response to customer demands from our restaurant. Scaling production, maintaining quality, and expanding distribution channels posed logistical challenges. Yet, each difficulty became a stepping stone in shaping the brand. The passion to overcome obstacles and share the love for authentic flavours has been the driving force. Today, Habanero stands as a testament to the journey, a fusion of inspiration and perseverance, making the difficulties worthwhile.

Brief us about the trends and future of the FnB market in India. And how do you see the scopes of your products?

Certainly! In the dynamic landscape of the FnB market in India, the trends are evolving rapidly. Consumers are increasingly inclined towards healthy, flavorful, and convenient options. This shift aligns seamlessly with our commitment at Habanero to offer ready-to-cook sauces, salsa, and tortilla wraps that are not only delicious but also vegan and gluten-free.

The future of the FnB market in India is promising, marked by a growing appetite for diverse cuisines and a desire for restaurant-quality experiences at home. Our products, designed to help people ‘Cook like a Chef’ in the comfort of their homes, perfectly align with these trends. As the market embraces sustainability and conscious consumerism, our locally sourced ingredients, hiring practices from nearby villages, and the use of recyclable glass jars for our sauces resonate well. 

We see significant scope for our products in catering to the discerning tastes of consumers who seek both authenticity and health-conscious choices in their culinary endeavours. 

Share with us the top 3 trends of the FMCG sector in 2024.

Looking ahead to 2024, three prominent trends in the FMCG sector emerge on the horizon. Firstly, there’s a continued emphasis on sustainability and conscious consumerism. As the founder of Habanero, I take pride in our commitment to sustainability, from locally sourced ingredients to using recyclable glass jars for our sauces.

Health and wellness remain a top priority. Consumers are increasingly looking for nutritious and wholesome options. Our selection of vegan and gluten-free ready-to-cook sauces and wraps perfectly aligns with this trend, providing a delightful yet healthy culinary experience. And the digital revolution is crucial. As e-commerce becomes a significant aspect of consumer behaviour, our products are strategically positioned to meet the expanding online market. We are available on diverse platforms such as Amazon, Flipkart, and others, ensuring that our products are easily accessible to consumers across the country.

The future of Habanero is all about these trends in the FMCG sector – we’re committed to sustainability, focusing on health and wellness, and adjusting to the digital world. This makes sure our products fit what consumers are looking for in 2024 and beyond.

How do you see the competition with other FnB brands and what are your USP?

Dealing with competition in the FnB sector is tough but exciting. At Habanero, we embrace this challenge, and what makes us special are our USPs. Our commitment to authenticity defines us. We introduced genuine Mexican flavours to India. This experience laid the foundation for Habanero, bringing an authentic Mexican culinary experience to our customers.Sustainability and health are key USPs for us. We source locally and offer vegan, gluten-free products, aligning with the growing demand for conscious consumerism and healthier food choices.

Another significant USP is our innovation. We go beyond products; we offer an experience. Our customers can ‘Cook like a Chef’ at home with our restaurant-quality sauces and ready-to-cook wraps.

Our distinctive standing in the FnB market arises from our honesty, dedication to sustainability and emphasis on innovation. Even amid intense competition, we shine by providing a delightful and genuine culinary experience.

What are your key strategies to build strong transactional relationships with customers? Are you also selling your products online?

Our main approach is to establish lasting connections with our customers. It begins with providing outstanding products – our ready-to-cook sauces, salsa, and wraps are made to meet high-quality standards, ensuring a delightful culinary experience. Another focus is on engaging with customers. This involves using social media, newsletters, and various online platforms to create a community where customers feel listened to and valued. Their feedback plays a crucial role in shaping our offerings.

Yes, we are actively selling our products online. Embracing the digital landscape is vital, and you can find Habanero products on platforms like Amazon, BlinkIt, Swiggy Instamart, Zepto, ONDC, Big Basket, BBNow and Flipkart.  This ensures accessibility for our customers, making it convenient to bring the flavours of Habanero into their homes.

How important is the role of technology in the FMCG and FnB sector and how it helps to make a strong brand value?

I truly see technology as the heartbeat of our operations in the FMCG and FnB sectors, a driving force that shapes the robustness of our brands. It’s the key to maintaining the accuracy and productivity that defines the consistent quality of what we offer. Moreover, technology serves as a direct link between us and our customers, reaching out through social media and online platforms. It’s not just about transactions; it’s about creating a genuine connection and laying the foundation for a brand characterized by trust and loyalty. Beyond this, technology equips us with invaluable data-driven insights, enabling us to adapt swiftly to changing preferences by studying consumer behaviour and market trends. This adaptability ensures our products stay not only relevant but also ahead of the curve in the ever-evolving FMCG and FnB landscape.

For me, technology isn’t just a tool; it’s the bedrock that strengthens our brand. It empowers us to deliver quality, create meaningful connections, and remain agile. This ensures that Habanero isn’t just a brand but a trusted and innovative presence in the industry.

What are your future plans and thoughts about your products and how it’s going to expand in the market with the future ideology?

As we look to the future, our goals are motivated by a dedication to ongoing innovation and satisfying our clients’ changing needs. We plan to add new and interesting flavours to our product line in order to maintain Habanero’s reputation for authenticity and excellence. 

My  focus is on constantly innovating and meeting the changing needs of our customers. We’re planning to bring in new and exciting flavors to our product range, staying true to Habanero’s reputation for authenticity and excellence. Sustainability is a big part of our future plans, and we’re committed to using more sustainable practices and machinery in creating our products. It’s all about keeping things fresh, genuine, and eco-friendly.

Shed some light on your expansion plans in the coming years.

In the coming years, our expansion plans are marked by both depth and breadth. Geographically, we aim to extend our presence to new cities and regions across India, ensuring that the flavours of Habanero become a kitchen staple in diverse households. The focus isn’t solely on traditional retail; we’re intensifying our online presence to make our products easily accessible to a wider audience.

Collaborations play a significant role in our growth strategy. We are actively seeking partnerships with brands, hotels, and establishments that share our commitment to quality and authenticity. These collaborations not only enhance our market presence but also provide unique culinary experiences for our customers.

On the international front, we’ve already taken strides by exporting to Bahrain, UAE, and Bhutan. Our focus is on growing across the GCC region, tapping into the global appeal of authentic Mexican flavours. Excitingly, we’ve recently partnered with Loyal World in the Mall of Asia and Lulu in the Middle East to stock our products. These strategic collaborations contribute to our international expansion, bringing the essence of Habanero to new markets. 

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