Saucing success: India’s culinary impact on global F&B industry

In an insightful dialogue with IBT, Viraj Bahl, Founder and Managing Director of Veeba, shares the inspiring journey of the brand over the last decade. From its humble inception with a vision rooted in honouring the founder’s mother to becoming one of India’s leading sauce producers, Veeba’s story unfolds.

The interview explores Veeba’s expansive market footprint, technological evolution, foray into diverse product categories, and strategic alignment with global food and beverage trends. Viraj Bahl also discusses Veeba’s participation in the upcoming edition of Indusfood and acknowledges the unique initiatives of the platform in elevating India’s prominence in the global food industry. 


India Business & Trade: Please share the story behind the establishment of Veeba and highlight the significant milestones achieved along the way.

Viraj Bahl: Veeba, part of the VRB holding company, emerged with a simple yet profound vision a decade ago. Named after my mother, the brand aimed to create a company that reflects India’s culinary excellence. Initially aspiring to be India’s fastest-growing and most beloved food company, the journey led us to become one of the country’s largest sauce producers. The focus has always been on being loved and appreciated for our taste, aligning with the belief that if India can produce top-tier COVID-19 vaccines, it can undoubtedly excel in crafting the finest sauces globally.

India Business & Trade: What is the market footprint of your company, both in India and on the international stage?

Viraj Bahl: In India, our market footprint extends to about 700 towns and approximately 200,000 points of sale, emphasising our widespread presence beyond major metros. Ensuring visibility and accessibility in non-metro areas is a crucial aspect of our strategy. Our distribution network faces unique challenges in India compared to more organized systems in global countries. On the international stage, our foray into exports is relatively recent, led by our newly appointed Head of Exports, Gaurav Gupta. While currently modest in scale, our presence includes the UAE, Singapore, the Middle East, and the USA. We’re strategically catering to both the Indian diaspora and a broader international audience, offering products that go beyond ethnic preferences. The initial response has been encouraging, and we’re optimistic about our potential to compete on a global scale, especially with our innovative and diverse product ranges.

India Business & Trade: How has your company embraced modern technology to enhance the production of high-quality F&B products? 

Viraj Bahl: Driven by my engineering background, our technological journey began with a modest 35,000 sqft facility in Rajasthan, later expanding to over 100,000 sqft and ultimately reaching around 500,000 sqft. In our early days, we were primarily a B2B company, with clients like Burger King and Domino’s contributing 100% to our revenue. The exacting audits from these global clients compelled us to adopt cutting-edge technology, ensuring our quality standards matched global benchmarks. While B2B revenue now constitutes roughly 8%, the majority, around 92%, is derived from distribution and retail sales. Our manufacturing facility is now a testament to innovation and efficiency, boasting one of the country’s largest automated sauce plants. Every step, from filling to labelling, is meticulously handled by advanced machines, ensuring a completely untouched and automated process, reflecting our commitment to high-quality F&B products.

India Business & Trade: Kindly elaborate on your plans for market and product diversification. Also, what factors or innovations drive your expansion into new markets and the introduction of new products? 

Viraj Bahl: In an ambitious move, we, one of the largest sauce companies in the country, recently entered the tomato ketchup and Chinese sauces categories, despite not having a presence in these significant segments previously. Our approach is far from being a mere imitation of existing products; instead, we strive to offer something distinctive to our consumers. About a month ago, we introduced Chinese sauces, followed by the launch of ketchup four months ago. Recognizing the need for innovation, we took a groundbreaking step by introducing India’s first preservative-free tomato ketchup, featuring a high tomato content. This initiative aligns with our belief that Indian children deserve the same quality of preservative-free ketchup as their counterparts in Europe and the US. While it’s disheartening that it took 75 years post-independence for India to witness the launch of its first preservative-free ketchup, we are committed to leading the market in this aspect. Looking ahead, our growth strategy revolves around not only sustaining our existing business but also capitalizing on the vast potential of ketchup and Chinese sauces, marking them as our primary growth engines alongside our core offerings of mayonnaise and dressings.

India Business & Trade: In the global F&B landscape, what major trends do you observe and how well-positioned is the Indian F&B industry to leverage and capitalize on these trends?

Viraj Bahl: We are witnessing prominent trends in the global food and beverage landscape, and as a leading Indian F&B company, we are strategically positioning ourselves to capitalize on these shifts. One significant trend is the growing emphasis on vegetarianism, which aligns perfectly with India’s rich tradition of vegetarian cuisine. Recognizing this advantage, we are taking our vegetarian and vegan products, such as vegan mayonnaise and vegetarian dressings, to international markets. Our approach is not merely to replicate existing products but to introduce unique offerings that cater to the mainstream consumer outside India.

Another noteworthy trend we are tapping into is the rising popularity of hot and spicy flavours. From hot sauces to spicy dressings and even spicy Korean noodles, the demand for fiery and bold flavours is becoming mainstream. India, with its cultural affinity for spices and chillies, is well-positioned to contribute to this trend. In response, we are actively exploring opportunities to expand our portfolio in the hot and spicy category. These trends are part of a larger movement toward wellness, with a specific focus on vegetarian and vegan options, aligning with the evolving preferences of global consumers.

India Business & Trade: What are your impressions about Indusfood and what specific expectations do you have for the upcoming edition of the show? 

Viraj Bahl: I truly appreciate the unique initiatives Indusfood took, making it one of the standout shows in the industry. What sets it apart is its commitment to bringing in international buyers, sometimes even covering their logistics and accommodations. This forward-thinking approach is crucial for putting India on the global export map. The scale and scope of Indusfood continue to expand, a positive trend that aligns to establish India as the go-to destination for quality products. Initiatives like Indus are instrumental in shifting the focus from other markets, like China, to India. I’m genuinely impressed by the efforts, especially the significant step of bringing and supporting international buyers, making Indus a noteworthy player in the global food industry landscape.

Viraj Bahl, a visionary entrepreneur, stands at the helm of Veeba, a beloved and home-grown food brand that has taken the Indian market by storm. As the Founder and Managing Director of Veeba, Viraj wears multiple hats to
propel the brand to new heights of success. With an unwavering commitment to excellence, an eye for
creativity, and an unbridled passion for introducing innovative and authentic products, Viraj emerges as a
leader in the culinary realm.

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