When news came in recently that Georges Monin SAS, the France-based global leader in food and beverage solutions, was doubling its direct involvement and investment in India, we couldn’t help but get excited!
Monin has been in the country for more than 20 years, but only recently established its India subsidiary and R&D centre in Hyderabad. The announcement that it would invest Rs. 200 crore in setting up a state-of-the-art factory near Hyderabad, as well as experience “studios” across India, sure makes for interesting reading.
We caught up with Mr Germain Araud, Managing Director of Monin India, in a video conference to find out what Monin’s plans are. First up, Germain admitted India is a very important market for Monin – not only in terms of its untapped commercial potential, but also the thrill of serving a country already brimming with diversity, talent and innovation.
The obvious question popped up: With such a wide variety of cuisines, range of flavours and palette of colours, will India not pose a big challenge? Germain feels there is much more to be done to meet the Indian market’s humungous appetite for flavourful food and beverages.
“Of the more than 150 flavours we supply to as many countries worldwide, India has already tasted and accepted more than 60-odd flavours,” Germain says. “The meeting between the extremely evolved flavour palette of Indians and Monin’s rich heritage of bringing innovation to the world will, I’m sure, produce ground-breaking innovations!”
Monin is building a 10,000-square-foot factory on 40 acres of land in Guntapally village, 50 km from Hyderabad, which will go on-stream in 2023. In addition to the factory, the premises will also be utilised for planting various orchards and creating a state-of-the-art experience studio, says Germain.
The future factory is based on Monin’s commitment to sustainable manufacturing and carbon-neutrality principles, with installation of solar energy systems and building capabilities of water conservation and recycling.
It is building a team of seasoned sales and marketing personnel and expanding its network of more than 100 distribution partners across India. It is also consolidating its supply chain (until now most imports into India were from Monin’s production facility in Malaysia) and bolstering its customer service team.
As an integral part of the Indo-French business community in the country, Monin has also extended assistance of more than Rs. 55 crore to Covid-19 relief initiatives, for provision of oxygen plants, concentrators and medical supplies to Indian hospitals.
Known to derive inspiration from connecting with communities and driving innovation, the Indian subsidiary has opened the 3,500-square-foot Monin Studio, at The Dhan Mill, New Delhi. Over time, more such unique experience centres will come up in Mumbai, Bengaluru, and on the factory premises.
The focus here is to engage with the local HoReCa professionals and create unique tasting experiences around Monin products for culinary and beverage applications.
“We will have our experts interact with chefs, food and beverage manufacturers, decision makers in independent and chain restaurants, bartenders, baristas, etc. to help us adapt to their needs and come up with customised solutions to cater to the unique needs of each business partner,” says Germain.
There will also be tasting sessions for chefs, master classes for bar and hotel professionals, as well as educational modules for students studying food, beverage and hospitality for a career.
What about the recent consumer trend towards “mindful” and health-conscious consumption? Monin has been practising responsible sourcing of its natural ingredients, with no artificial flavouring or colouring in a majority of its products, Germain reminds us.
“In fact, our principal of ‘naturality’ has driven our business far before we heard of the Covid-19 pandemic. We have low- and zero-sugar products; and our flavours, colours and preservatives are all from 100% natural, plant-based sources. We even have products made from entirely organic ingredients,” he says.
With his extensive travels across India and South-East Asia over more than a decade, we ask Germain a few “personal” questions. Chikoo (Sapota) is his favourite Indian fruit; and aam-panha (boiled mango syrup) his favourite drink.
He is all gung-ho about Hyderabadi biryani, chhole-bhature and vada-rasam; and prefers gaajar halwa for dessert.
What is Monin’s perception of evolution in Indian bars and bartending? The past decade has witnessed an explosive growth of bartenders in India, some of them surpassing many of their global peers – and very recently it has also witnessed bars in India making their way to top rankings across the world.
Monin has always believed in collaborating and supporting the community of beverage professionals. “In time, we would be keen to bring back the Monin Cup to all beverage professionals in India,” Germain says.
What excites him the most about India and his role in Monin? “Having travelled quite a lot, I think there is a need to explore fruits, herbs, vegetables, and often forgotten flavours and aromas, in remote parts of India.” He says. “Our persistence to grow with India has borne great results. It is an exciting time for us to be a part of India’s journey.”