India’s largest beverage company, Parle Agro has always been at the forefront of innovation in the development of iconic fruit based beverages like Frooti and Appy which have captured the hearts of India. In order to cater to the massive demand of their products nationally and globally, Parle Agro is focused on updating their internal infrastructure and also aggressively building capabilities and capacities of their fruit processing partners across India.
Since 1985, Parle Agro has worked consistently with fruit farmers and processors within India with a vision to encourage their development and give them opportunities to elevate their earnings. Parle Agro continues on this path and has invested heavily on their processing partners to help them extract their highest potentials in terms of infrastructure development and revenue increase. Subsequently, the company has taken a determined stand to source 100% from within India itself. Historically, Parle Agro has always sourced fruits from India while importing from China too, to meet their apple juice content needs. But now, the company has completely stopped sourcing apple juice imports from China and are sourcing them entirely from India alone through its network of Indian farmers.
Parle Agro’s foray into the fruit based category in 1985 began with procuring 1,000 MT of mango fruit from their local fruit processing partners to create the company’s popular mango based drink, Frooti’. Parle Agro has grown exponentially to currently procuring around 150,000 MT of mango fruits into high quality mango pulp; increasing their consumption of mangoes by 150 times. Parle Agro’s range of fruit-based products currently utilize around 210,000 MT of fruit collectively. Over the past decade and a half, the company’s consumption of fruits has increased fivefold. Approximately one third of the fruit pulp produced in India is consumed by Parle Agro.
After its successful foray in creating robust mango processing supply chains, Parle Agro envisioned the creation of a similar network for apple juice concentrate due to the immense popularity of its apple based drinks like Appy, Appy Fizz and B Fizz. The company’s requirement for apples has risen from 5,000 MT to around 60,000 MT of fruit. This has had a significant impact on local economies by contributing to local farmers’ incomes, as well as the growth opportunities for local apple processing partners.
Certain challenges faced by apple processors in India had led to issues with procuring of this fruit 100% for beverage manufacturers like Parle Agro. Challenges included limited availability of apples and outdated technology in processing abilities of Apple Processing Units in India. Nationally, apples are procured from the regions of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand, which have poor road infrastructure, low quality fruits, high transport costs, political turmoil, erratic weather and shortage of skilled labor. Therefore demand had to be fulfilled by some amount of imports.
Parle Agro has worked actively towards changing the situation, leading to the complete discontinuation of all apple juice imports from China to sourcing these 100% from India. The company has supported in upgrading fruit processing facilities of four processors based in J&K, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Parle Agro is working closely with them to build their processing capabilities, increase outputs and build efficiency leading to reduction in wastage.
Speaking on the occasion, Schauna Chauhan, chief executive officer, Parle Agro stated, “Parle Agro has, and will always be ‘India-focused’ in terms of sourcing raw materials and strengthening infrastructure. We aim to participate in India’s glorious growth story by contributing to building India economically and by creating opportunities for small farmers and SMEs and MSMEs across India. Our goal is always to be at the forefront of improving and building up capabilities of our partners in India and deliver the best class products in the beverage category.”
Parle Agro has always been committed to source within India and create state-of-the-art fruit processing capabilities nationally, thereby actively and consciously contributing to India’s Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan before it was even conceived. Parle Agro prides itself on being an Indian company that has always followed the principle of, “India First” - having a tight focus on promoting procurement and operations within India whenever possible. Parle Agro has always been committed to build a strong network within India right from utilizing locally sourced produce, to pushing for technological advancements in its nationally located partner processing companies thus creating rapid new employment opportunities.
In the future, Parle Agro seeks to consistently work closely with all stakeholders like fruit growers, its partner processors and the Government at all levels to minimize these shortcomings over time and to increase their yields and outputs. It aims to be able to fulfil its apple requirements sufficiently by year 2023.