Updates Details

By TPCI | September 12, 2019

Allied Natural Product has evolved as a leading Indian exporter of natural organic honey that caters to bulk requirements and also offers world class packaging solutions. It has set up its own processing unit in Sonepat, Haryana,  with an annual processing capacity of 10,000 tons.

In this interaction with IndusFood, Mandeep Singh, MD, Allied Natural Product, talks about the international expansion of the company, and future expansion opportunities for the entire Indian honey industry.

IndusFood: As the name "Allied Natural Products" suggests, you dwell exclusively into natural products. How did you come up with this business idea, and how has the venture fared so far?
Mandeep Singh: As a producer and exporter, we were always fascinated with natural and organic products, since our very inception. With our knowledge and experience, we could see that honey is one of the key consumer products, which is deemed to gain momentum. Back in 2014, when we had commenced with our own processing unit, we could see that the market for honey was very strong.

Relatively, honey is not as old a commodity as the other grains and pulses are. Therefore, it was a modern market for us to understand. But with a meticulous and incessant research, we found that there is a lot of potential not only from the demand but also from the supply side.

Since, I was so closely associated with the honey industry for over 10 years before I had taken a plunge into production, we knew all the know-hows. Eventually, when my son Arshdeep Singh stepped into the business, we conceived the idea and it did not take us much time to capture the market.

Initially we started with a 30K square fit space for our processing unit and over the years, we have expanded to a 100k square fit space in the region of Sonipat, Haryana.

IndusFood: What were the teething troubles that you encountered and how did you overcome them?
MS: To start with, we had financial issues. We also encountered challenges in integrating the bee-keepers. We struggled finding good equipment and solid market & platform. However, I am very grateful to the Government of India for extending support to the exporters by giving them subvention and reducing the interest rates. The kind of support that the Government of India provides to its exporters is just unprecedented and phenomenal.

Another major challenge that we encountered was the apprehension from the buyers end. They were very fearful of using Indian honey and replacing Brazilian honey with our organic honey. Initially, we really had to slog and convince buyers for our quality. Nevertheless, they didn’t believe in our word of mouth and we were open for any lab tests, as we were confident about our product.

But we overcame all such challenges with our efforts and consistency and today, a honey exporting country like Canada also imports honey from India. Allied Natural Product exports not only bulk honey but also bottled honey in huge quantities to Canada and we are proudly present in their Walmart, today. This is how Indian honey has accentuated on the global platform.

IndusFood: What transformational changes has the business undergone, since its inception in terms of product portfolio/innovations, reach, brand equity, etc?
MS: We started with bulk honey (raw honey in bulk form). Also, initially, we were only doing mustard honey which has tendency to crystalize very fast, so it is not much preferred by households as table-top honey world-wide. However, it is widely used in making of cigarettes, wines, confectionaries and in other industries.

Over a period of time, we have eventually started exporting honey in liquid form for crystallization due to the incorporation of different kinds of crops, say Litchi or eucalyptus. Thus, we started a bottling vertical. Today, we have our own bottling units. In this segment, we are exporting in large numbers in Middle East, and growing our market in North Africa and Canada as well.

We also produce organic honey and are planning to launch our own brand of bottled honey in India under the brand name “ViVi”. It would soon be placed in the modern and the general trade market also.

In fact, with more and more people getting health conscious, bottled honey would replace conventional honey in the global market, as a trend.

So, presently, we produce a plethora of honey products ranging from mustard honey, eucalyptus honey, litchi honey, the organic variant, multi flora and black forest honey. We are also into the production of Sidr Honey. It’s worth mentioning that we are one of the only producers of non-GMO honey in India. All these products come in various types of packaging ranging from blister packs and polly-packs to glass jar packs and metal drums.

IndusFood: How has the export business progressed in terms of numbers? What are the key markets you are targeting for your products and why?
MS: As we started exports, our turnover reached Rs 11 crore in just the initial three months. Over a period of five years, our turnover has reached Rs 100 crore. Initially we were present only in the US. However, we believe that depending solely on one country is unhealthy for export sustainability. So, we decided to take the plunge into other markets as well. The first was Canada and furthermore, after settling well in Canada, we started penetrating into Middle East, which is a decent market for bottled honey. Today, we are also exporting to Oman, Saudi, Morocco and North Africa.

Besides, the one market that we feel needs to be tapped by the entire Indian honey industry is Europe. It is the biggest consumer of honey by default and so it cannot be missed.

IndusFood: Are you also into bee-keeping? How do you see the business opportunities in India? Can you give us some account of bee-keeping industry in India?
MS: Bees are such hard-working and consistent workers. They work round-the year for us. They just need the right crop, conducive environment, proper attention and care & medication.

In different kinds of weather, we have different kinds of honey coming in. For instance, in the months of December to March, we get a major crop of mustard and rape-seed. After March, going ahead, we get other major crops like Litchi, Barsin, and Eucalyptus.

Moreover, we at Allied Natural Product are today connected with over 4,000 bee-keepers in North and North-eastern regions of India like Punjab, Haryana, UP, Bihar, West Bengal and Orissa. It took us great persistence and patience to educate the bee-keepers and make them aware about various crops which can yield different varieties of honey.

Yes, the industry, which is generally taken-up as a vocational occupation in some regions of India as Punjab, Haryana, MP, UP etc., can prove to be a major revenue generation source for the country in the near future. It is an un-organized sector, unfortunately. We need to introduce reforms in the industry. We need to put a lot of hard work here. The potential is visible. The only thing is we need is to pat the bee-keepers on their back by giving them good prices. This will not only help in growing honey production but also in pollination, which is again very essential for maintaining the ecological balance on Earth.

We need bees and farmers coming in this trade of bee-keeping practices. This is where Government’s support and intervention is needed. Holding seminars would be helpful. In fact, we at Allied Natural Product have been doing such activities and educating bee-keepers about the do’s and don’ts of the practice by demonstrating it to them with pictures and also cascading the literature related to bee-keeping. But India is huge and therefore, we need the government to come forward for our support as it is going to serve multiple purposes.

IndusFood: How do you see the growth in the Indian food and agro processing industry both in the general and honey segment? How is it expected to reflect on the exports front?
MS: Being one of the largest producers of honey in the world, India’s honey exports are growing at a rate of 10%. Moreover, the Indian honey industry sees competition (in the bulk honey segment) from other major honey producing countries like Argentina, Vietnam, and Ukraine. However, India has an edge over all of them. The reason is that no other country produces such a refined quality, color, texture and flavor for honey, all at the same time.

For example, the colour of the honey produced by Vietnam deteriorates very fast and it struggles to produce amber color honey. Argentina produces nothing more than a very light coloured honey, i.e., just the white colour and the taste is also nowhere close to Indian honey. India, on the other hand, produces all the three shades of honey viz., water white, extra-light amber, and amber, naturally. Furthermore, Ukraine’s honey granulizes very fast.

Thereby, the Indian honey industry, with all the aspects of quality intact, has a top-of the line product. Thus, there is no wonder why Indian honey has already been placed on the international palate. Today, we have neck-to-neck competition with the Brazilian honey and allied products. This is how the Indian honey industry has grown so far, and can be envisaged to hit all-time highs in the near future.

With all kinds of weather, landscapes and flora, which we are blessed with here in India, we get the best quality honey in the world. The kind of quality, taste and texture that we produce in India is unmatchable.

IndusFood: How do you plan to expand your business in the near future?
MS: Initially, the only product that we were exporting was the bulk honey to parts of US. However, over the last five years, we have very well established markets in US, Canada, Middle East and North Africa. Also involved in private labeling with a number of leading brands, we are growing in terms of our market reach.

We are not only expanding our production capacity, but also widening our wings in our labs. We are enhancing our lab capabilities with rich instruments and machines, year by year. Thereby, quality is one of our major USPs. We have very strict and stringent quality control at our labs. We always do a double check; first at the initial stage wherein we put a check on the raw materials and the other one after processing where we get our samples checked from Germany.

IndusFood: Can you please name product that needs shelf space and marketing attention within your sector?
MS: The by-products of honey should be placed well in the market. They need attention. These can be pollen, bee venom, bee wax and honeycomb, which are sourced separately and can generate income for farmers and the country. The markets for these by-products of honey remain un-organized in India as of now. So, why use paraffin when we can use bee-wax?

Also, the bee-keeping industry in India and the farmers indulged into the vocation need to be uplifted. By doing this, we would be subsequently hitting two things. One the health, as it is an energy booster and the other being the revenue, as it would be an addition to the income of the farmers as well.

IndusFood: Have you participated in IndusFood earlier? Please share your experience. Is there any product you are planning to launch in IndusFood’s upcoming fixture in 2020?
MS: When we joined IndusFood in 2018, we explored some really great collaborations. We also expanded our wings into the inter-state business. This is how we got more connections and buyers. Had TPCI’s endeavor in the form of IndusFood not been there, we could have never explored some prudent ancillary associations, such as the jar industry, carton industry, labelling industry and many more.

Thus, IndusFood is a growth platform and is a must for the Indian industry. I thank and congratulate TPCI for providing us the spot and platform to grow in a way that no other exhibition could probably give us.