POST TIME: 16 April, 2018 08:09:48 AM
We now export processed food to China
Ispahani Foods Limited Director Ali Ispahani tells The Independent

We now export processed food to China

Ali Ispahani

Ispahani Group, one of the country's most reputed business houses, is most known for its tea business. As the largest producer of tea in the country, the brand has become synonymous with the leafy beverage. This century-old conglomerate has contributed much to the country's industrialisation.

It has business interests in many other areas, most notably in jute, textile, real estate, poultry and shipping. It has also made significant investment in the processed food business and has been coming up with new products.

The Independent recently talked with Ali Ispahani, director of Ispahani Foods Limited. The following are excerpts from that conversation:

Q: When did Ispahani expand into food business?

A: Ispahani Foods Ltd was established in 1999. Our first range of products was the popular "Ispahani Marshall's Chips" brand, which later changed to  "Ispahani Potato Crackers" and "Mighty Chips Brands". We have added new products, such as biscuits and powder drinks, to our portfolio over the years.

Q: How many products Ispahani Food Ltd has now?

A: We now have 35 SKUs covering chips, powder drinks, biscuits, toast biscuits and dry cakes. Some new products will be introduced this year.

Q: Ispi is a relatively new entrant in the powdered drink market of Bangladesh. What is its unique selling point? Why people would be interested in buying it?

A: Ispi has been in the market since 2010. As part of always living up to our brand name and reputation for producing quality products, we've always  strove for continual improvement in product, marketing, and distribution. We strongly believe that these traits have made us grow phenomenally over the past eight years.

Our product quality is comparable to that of any international brand. Since it's produced locally, we can offer it at a much cheaper price. This will prove to be an added value to customers.

Q: What other products Ispahani Food Ltd plans to introduce in the near future?

A: We've plans to increase our range of biscuits by the end of this year. We also plan to introduce a few corn-based snacks, which, we believe, will be very popular.

Q: What is your view on the processed food industry of Bangladesh?

A: It's an industry that has huge growth potential with proper investment, product development and quality control. I think Bangladesh, which is an agrarian country, can supply abundant and diversified raw materials for this industry. We can offer unique spices that would add an extra punch to processed food items.

Q: Do you think we can compete with countries like China or Thailand to grab a share of the processed food export basket?

A: Snacks manufacturers in Bangladesh already export their products to countries around the world.

They mainly target the Bangladeshi diaspora and other low-priced markets. But I believe that we will eventually export our snacks to ASEAN countries that have traditionally dominated other markets.

In fact, Ispahani Foods Ltd is the first Bangladeshi company to export snacks to China for the mainstream Chinese population. I believe that the industry will develop considerably in the next five to 10 years and we'll see a huge demand for Bangladeshi processed food items all around the globe.