The UK frozen foods industry in general has seen a phase of stagnant growth in recent years, largely due to market conditions affecting consumers’ spending patterns. Within this onerous period of economic uncertainty, it has proved very difficult for small to medium size businesses to sustain increased base-line profits along with year on year growth. Taj Foods has excelled in this difficult time, with focused marketing strategies allowing them to achieve both year on year growth as well as increased profits.
Taj’s products are not only attractive to the ethnic consumer, but have also gained increased penetration in other consumer markets. The current year sees a number of key strategic changes for Taj Foods, which will ensure continued growth within an ever more diverse World food market. Mr. Anil Solanki, founding director of Taj Foods, spoke to the Grocery Trader.
Initially starting with a single transport vehicle to fulfil orders from independent retailers, Mr. Solanki has grown the distribution and logistical arm of the company to provide an order turn around time of 24 hours, which has been critical to their success with leading supermarkets and high end wholesalers. Coupled with this, Taj Foods also services independent retail outlets directly, through their own fleet of lorries.
Taj Foods has been established for over 25 years, and has built its product portfolio with a view to offer its consumers the very latest in innovation. Taj’s success in winning awards within the frozen food category has been fuelled by the ongoing work of its global research and development team.
Taj Foods has developed its core markets within the UK retail and wholesale sector, focusing on importing and distributing various products, from a wide array of countries. The name Taj (meaning “crown”) has been synonymous with high quality, and the “Taj” brand has been built and sustained through an ongoing desire to satisfy the needs of its customers.
Taj Foods currently leads the market with two different product offerings. It is Europe’s largest importer of frozen cassava, a specialised root vegetable popular amongst a range of diverse ethnic communities. It is also one of the largest importers and distributors of dry Cassava Crisps and Plantain Crisps. These popular snack items have also received wide recognition outside the ethnic community, due to their beneficial health properties compared to conventional potato crisps. Other key frozen food items Taj markets include Pigeon Peas, Val Beans, Black eye Beans and a vast range of specialised Indian vegetables, such as Okra.
Market domination with these lines has led to a range of new innovative products being introduced to complement the range Taj Foods has to offer. Recently, a range of Cassava Sticks was introduced into the market with positive uptake, along with a variety of new flavours for its existing Cassava Crisps range. Its extensive sourcing capabilities have allowed it to be a market leader in these areas.
Mr. Solanki commented on the current market position of Taj Foods: “The key this year is to achieve cost savings by streamlining our logistics as well as our procurement strategy, whilst maintaining our product quality. Current market trading conditions have tailored our business approach to pass on our savings to our end customers.”
Mr. Solanki believes the main focus for Taj Foods this year will be to expand its trading relationship with its clients, which will include working in partnership with existing as well as potential clientele to attain business growth by leveraging volumes and economies of scale. This strategy has been adopted not only in the UK but also across the globe, in other countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the Middle East, where the Taj Brand is currently being exported.
Mr. Solanki believes frozen innovation lies in convenience and pricing, leading Taj Foods to expand its range of frozen items to reflect the needs of its customers. Promotional activity and sustaining low prices will be key to the business increasing its market share this year, and plans to offer a range of exclusive offers on a number of its key product lines are in place to substantially increase turnover in 2008.
The future looks promising for Taj Foods. A plan to re-launch the Taj brand on a worldwide scale has already been set in motion. This will include a complete makeover of all current products within the Taj range, as well as introducing new products to complement both the ambient and frozen offerings they currently provide.
The world food market has become very competitive, and Taj Foods is focused on building its business success globally. With the key fundamentals in place, along with a strong sense of purpose, Taj Foods is clearly heading in the right direction. With this in mind, plans to grow turnover exponentially in the next two to three years seem realistic, especially given the wide range of expertise and business knowledge that has been accumulated within the company.