How two Assam entrepreneurs took their love for pork to next level
Guwahati: We all know how Northeast people savour their pork. But some entrepreneurs in Assam are taking their love for the meat to the next level. Meet Anabil Goswami and Arindom Hazarika, two youths from the state who left their cushy corporate jobs to start Arohan Foods, a pork processing firm, in 2013.
Arohan’s flagship brand, Choice Pork Natural, is currently retailing across 40 cities and 500 outlets. It sells from sausages to salami, pickle to ham and bacon.
"Pork was loved and consumed by people as well as 10% of the population of the country but there was no such initiative to introduce the food that is loved by many, in a much better form. Since we come from an agricultural background, we settled on starting an agri-based venture," says Goswami, 38, who met his co-founder Hazarika at IBS Hyderabad while pursuing their MBA.
The number of pigs in Northeast is very high. Pork production consists primarily of backyard and unorganised sector producers. The complete absence of organised players in the region's pork business, especially in the processed-packaged segment, caught the attention of the duo. Soon, the idea of a processed pork brand emerged.
At first, Goswami and Hazarika, both hailing from Guwahati, started off with handloom and mushroom. But every time they decided to start something, it was over a plate of pork. It was not just a dream for Goswami, but a passion that something from Assam could go global. His passion lay in food and that is why he and his friend Hazarika started the food processing company.
"Choice Pork Natural is not just a processed pork company; it is an entire value chain that we work with. We realised that in spite of Assam being the number one producer of pork, all the processed pork in Assam were coming from Sri Lanka and European countries. That is what led to the initiation of our venture," Goswami adds.
Arohan Foods is supported by National Research Centre on Pigs. It works with small-holder pig farmers to improve their animal husbandry practices. The firm ensures highest quality pigs for sourcing. "We tell farmers what nourishments are needed to be given, how to keep pigs healthy, what vaccinations need to be given and at what time, provide nutritional advice. We intervene in those things but leave pig rearing to them, as they have been doing this for generations and only provide with the modern scientific advisory support," adds Goswami.
Matured pigs are purchased from the farmers at the stable market price irrespective of the seasonal prices and are brought to the factory, where the products are slaughtered. After processing, they market it across India. They also have outlets in Delhi and other places across the nation. "We have representatives in each state who carry out the marketing procedure," adds Goswami.
They also do a sample test after production, only then the product is released in the market. According to Goswami, each farmer is planning to earn more than Rs 2 lakh a year and this will take them to become India’s biggest pork producing company.
According to Anabil Goswami, there are two kinds of competition. "One, which helps us and another that does not. Helpful are those entrepreneurs, who are new in the market and help us grow to the next level," he says.
As farmers are the real people, the main motive of Arohan Foods is that they want their farmers to earn more and produce the best pork in the country. The challenge for them was how to work with the thousands of farmers and make them sustainable.
Arohan Foods is uniquely positioned as the first integrated pork processing business in India. The firm has a first-mover advantage, as pig farming is underdeveloped nationwide. Also, the market for processed pork (sausage and bacon) is nascent. “Enterpreneurship journey lies in three things -- passion, honesty and conviction," adds the passion-driven entrepreneur.