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Balaji Wafers Success Story: Building a Rs 2,000 crore-plus brand with stubbornness

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  • As someone said, "Food is our common ground, a universal experience." Most people enjoy eating food as it adds spectacular joy to their life. Thanks to our food manufacturing industries for always coming up with a wide variety of food and snacks to relish.
  • Lately, food processing and manufacturing have become very successful in terms of the global economy. Today, food production is no longer just a local business because food is now transported around the world, allowing a huge variety of goods to be sold in our supermarkets. Consider the Indian food industry which plays a dominant role in shaping the country's socio-economic impact.
  • One such Indian food manufacturer company is Balaji Wafers, which was founded by Chandubhai Virani and his two brothers Bikhubhai Virani and Kanubhai Virani in 1974 in Gujarat, India.
  • This article covers all the relevant information on Balaji Wafers, such as its startup story, mission and vision, product details, and more.

Company Highlights

  • Company Name-Balaji Wafers Pvt. Ltd.
  • Headquarters-Rajkot, Gujarat, India
  • Sector-Food Manufacturing
  • Founders-Bhikhubhai Virani, Chandubhai Virani, and Kanubhai Virani
  • Founded In-1974
  • Website-Balajiwafers.com

Balaji Wafers - About

  • Balaji Wafers is a significant manufacturer and distributor of snack foods. It manufactures and sells a range of grain-based snacks, including potato chips. The company exports most of its products to international markets like the United States, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and Australia. In its manufacturing facilities in Rajkot and Valsad, the company has over 1800 employees. The company is a member of the Snacks Food Association.
  • With 4 factories now operating in India, Balaji can process 6.5 million kg of potatoes and 10 million kg of snacks and savories every day. In addition to potato wafers, Balaji also makes over 30 other salty snacks and savory foods.


Balaji Wafers - Industry Details

  • Balaji Wafers belongs to the food processing or manufacturing industry.
  • Technological innovations in the food manufacturing industry have helped in increasing the demand for processed food in the last few years.
  • The size of the food processing market, which was estimated to be worth US$143.51 billion in 2020, is expected to increase to US$235.67 billion by 2028, with a CAGR of 6.6% between 2021 and 2028.


Balaji Wafers - Founders and Team

  • Balaji Wafers was founded by three siblings: Bhikhubhai Virani, Chandubhai Virani, and Kanubhai Virani in 1974.
  • Chadhubhai Virani and his two brothers Bhikhubhai Virani and Kanubhai Virani were born in a small village near the Jamnagar district of Gujarat. The three brothers started the company with a very nominal amount that their father had given to them.


Shyam Virani

  • Shyam Virani, son of Kanubhai Virani overlooks the overall sales and marketing operations and is Director at Balaji Wafers. He graduated from Clark University with a bachelor's degree in Economics. Before joining Balaji, Shyam has been associated with companies like EY and E2Exchange.


Balaji Wafers - Startup Story

  • The story of Balaji Wafers is no less than a story of a movie. It all started when the three Virani brothers moved to Rajkot to start a new business.
  • They came to Rajkot with Rs 20,000, which their father had given them. Their father had to sell their land because of the drought that hit their village. The trio started a business of fertilizers and farm equipment. Sadly, the business did not run well and they lost all their money.
  • Leaving no other option, the three brothers had to take a job at the Astron Cinema. Upon seeing their hard work and dedication, the canteen owner handed them a contract to run the canteen at a rent of Rs 1,000 per month. Soon after, they started making potato wafers and sandwiches, and various other items in the canteen.
  • As their business was starting to boom, they came up with their company name, 'Balaji'. They took the name from the Hanuman temple which was located near the canteen.
  • Hardships continued for the three brothers. Chandubhai took a loan of Rs 50 lakh in 1989 to set up their own factory near the Aji GIDC area of Rajkot. The factory was then Gujarat's biggest potato wafer plant. In their initial days, the company used to earn around Rs20,000 to Rs30,000 per month.
  • Finally, when the company Balaji was formed as Balaji Wafers Private Limited in 1992, the business slowly started to pick up. In 2000, Balaji Wafers became a fully automatic plant. By just focusing on quality and affordable pricing strategy, the Virani brothers' company Balaji stood against giants like Uncle Chipps, PepsiCo, Binnies, and Simba during that time.
  • Chandubhai Virani mentions, "My motto was to serve the customers and give them the best quality products at an affordable price. And now we are the largest regional potato wafers and snacks brand in the western states of India, including Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Goa.
  • In 2014, Balaji Wafers became a leading snacks player in the Gujarat market.
  • Presently, the company has four plants at Rajkot, Valsad, Vadodara, and Indore with a total processing capacity to manufacture 100,000 kg of potato wafers, along with 500,000 kg of savories per day.


Balaji Wafers - Mission and Vision

  • Balaji Wafers' motto is, "customer is king". They strive to serve good quality at reasonable prices. They believe that by serving customers good and quality-based products they can satisfy their customers and that they will always choose Balaji Wafers over other brands.

Balaji Wafers - Name, Tagline, Logo

  • 'Balaji' is another name for the Hindu God, Hanuman. The three founders had a strong faith in their lord and took the name from the Hanuman temple near the canteen, where they first started their business.

Balaji Wafers - Business and Revenue Model

  • Balaji Wafers manufactures and distributes a wide range of potato chips and other snacks in India. Their products are also exported to other countries like USA, UK, UAE, and Australia.


Wafers - Consisting of 12 Products

  • Stack Up, Wafers- Chaat Chaska, Stack Up Salted, Crunchex- Chilli Tadka, Wafers- Masala Masti, Wafers- Tomato Twist, Wafers- Cream & Onion, Peri Peri Wafers, Sizzling Chilli, Wafers- Simply Salted, Wafers- Pizzy Masala, Crunchex- Simply Salted, and Rumbles- Pudina Twist.


Namkeen - Consisting of 23 Products

  • Yumstix, Punjabi Tadka, Aloo Sev, Farali Chevdo, Khatta Mitha Mix, Tikha Mitha Mix, Bhujia Sev, Mitha Farali Chiwda, Khatta Mitha Mix, Chana Jor Garam, Bhel Mix, Mung Dal, Chana Dal, Nimbu Shing Bhujia, Salted Peanuts, Shing Bhujia, Masala Shing, Classic Sev, Gathiya, Ratlami Sev, Sev Murmura,  Masala Peas, Masala Sev Murmura, and Sago Balls.


Western Snacks - Consisting of 12 Products

  • PopringsMoon Crunchies- Masala, Flamin Hot Nachos- Yummy Cheese, Chataka Pataka- Flamin Hot, Poprings Masala, Gippi Noodles, Chataka Pataka- Chinese Chaska, Tomato Salsa Nachos, Funne-Spicy Punch, and Scoopitos.
  • The company focused on one market at a time and now has a presence in over 11 states in India. Being one of the top leaders in potato wafers in India, the company generated a revenue of $500 million in 2021.


Balaji Wafers - Employees

  • The current number of employees working at Balaji Wafers is around 5000. It is one of the few companies where women make up almost 50% of the workforce.


Balaji Wafers - Challenges Faced

  • In the initial days of doing business, Balaji Wafers had to face a lot of hurdles. From buying potatoes and cutting machines, everything seemed too expensive for the three brothers. They did not have enough manpower so Chandubhai used to travel around supplying potato wafers to shopkeepers. They had to deal with criticism from shopkeepers and dealers who would find their potato wafers stale and not tasty.
  • Another challenge the company had to face was in 2018 when there were power cuts in Gujarat. At its Rajkot manufacturing facility, which processed about 8 lakh kg of potato wafers then and 10 lakh kg of snacks every hour, even a minute of power loss before the generator kicked in resulted in some significant waste and loss for the company.
  • However, the trio did not lose hope and continued exploring other ways focusing only on quality. Today, the company is considered to be a top player in the food processing industry in India, especially in the western part of India.


Balaji Wafers - Growth

  • By looking at the timeline, one can surely say that Balaji Wafers has shown outstanding growth since its inception.
  • The company was dubbed the "Sultan of Wafers" by The Economic Times.  As per Euromonitor, the company has increased its market share of local potato and vegetable chips from 9.5% in 2008 to 13.7% in 2012. With a 71% market share, Balaji also rules the Western market.  It holds a 90% share in Gujarat, its home state.
  • To expand its product range, it also formed a joint venture to produce frozen specialties like French fries under the name Iscon Balaji Foods with SP Chips Potato Pvt Ltd and the renowned real estate company Iscon Group.


Balaji Wafers - Advertisements and Social Media Campaigns

  • In 2019, Balaji Wafers roped in famous Bollywood actor Ayushmann Khurrana for their advertisement. With the unique headline 'Kam Hawa, Wafers Zyaada And Flavors Wah Wah’ the ad by Balaji Wafers intend to tell its audience that the company not only sells quantity wafers but also mouthwatering different flavors.


Balaji Wafers - Competitors

The top competitors of Balaji Wafers are:

  • Frito Lay
  • NH Foods
  • Gopal Namkeen
  • Haldirams
  • Bikaji

Balaji Wafers - Future Plan

  • Balaji Wafers has always maintained its consistency in offering quality items at affordable prices. As it is already a main player in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh, the company aims to supply and distribute in Delhi-NCR, South and East India. Furthermore, the company is also going to launch new products, such as ethnic snacks, and wafer biscuits.


FAQs

Who are the founders of Balaji Wafers?

  • Balaji Wafers was founded by three siblings: Bhikhubhai Virani, Chandubhai Virani, and Kanubhai Virani in 1974.

What are the products offered by Balaji Wafers?

  • The company has three main product categories through which it carries out its business: Wafers, Namkeen, and Western Snacks offering more than 30 products.

Who are the main competitors of Balaji Wafers?

The top competitors of Balaji Wafers are:

  • Frito Lay
  • NH Foods
  • Gopal Namkeen
  • Haldirams
  • Bikaji

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