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Covid paves way for this courier company to set up factory for ready to eat food packs

| Updated: September 13, 2021 18:10

Brothers and founders of Chips Express Pvt Ltd, Vimal and Tushar Patel launched their ready to eat food packs Hungrill (meaning Hunger Will) in January 2020 and Covid-19 happened. But Covid-19 came as a boon for their newly established business of ready to eat food packs.

“The food is not dehydrated or uncooked with instructions. The food we serve is “ready to eat”, literally. You simply heat the food and it’s ready to relish,” Vimal, MD of Chips Express Pvt Ltd and Co-founder of TVP Food LLP.

“Food is cooked in the same manner as it’s cooked in your kitchen. But packaged differently. We use the retort method to cook and pack the food items in plastic containers. All these containers are environmentally friendly,” added Vimal.

Both brothers started their courier business in 2004 and in 2006 the brothers moved to Australia to work. After a decade of working in a foreign land, brothers returned to their hometown, Ahmedabad and continued with their courier business. They also started their food industry in the meantime.

“During our stay in Australia, most days we would not cook and end up eating outside food. Obviously, the taste was disappointing. But we had no choice. And since then Tushar has been ideating on ready to eat food packs. We bought a few from stores nearby, but the vegetarian packs tasted bad,” said Vimal.

Hungrill’s food packs have no preservatives and claim to have a shelf life of 12 months, without refrigeration. With an investment of close to Rs 20 crores, the Patel brothers have not only exported the retort machine and set it up at their factory in Changodar but have also purchased the tin tray manufacturing machine, to cut down costs.

Explaining the retort process, Tushar said, “We use retort method to process the food. It is a simple process wherein we sterilize food after it is sealed in a container by steam or other heating methods. Typically, the sterilization temperatures vary from 230°F/110°C to 275°F/135°C. Retort sterilization provides safe, effective shelf stability and can be done with fairly simple equipment.”

The retort machine

“All our packs have either six, nine or 12 months of shelf life and they don’t have to be refrigerated. But yes, we would mention that there could be a slight change in taste, beyond 12 months. But the food will not be spoiled,” said Tushar. Currently, they are launching 25 products in the Indian market, that will carry flavours of India in forms of curries, rice and more.

The current market share, of ready to eat food packs as per Janmay Choksi is 22 per cent and it is going to increase. “Due to Covid-19, many are still sceptical when it comes to enjoying dinner at a restaurant. And the current food packets either require water and added masalas to live up to Indian taste buds. But not Hungrill,” said Choksi, CEO of Jameck Services. Choksi is currently handling the marketing division of the company. The company is already exporting their food packs across stores in Australia and Canada and are soon to venture into the USA. They are also planning to introduce the segment across online markets in India.

Janmay Choksi explaining production and packaging units inside the factory.

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