Going bananas? Why Indian firm Beyond Snack believes banana chips can peel off potato market
According to Beyond Snack, the global banana chips market could be worth a minimum of US$10bn in the next five to eight years if industry players “do the game right”.
“At the moment, potato chips are still king in the savoury snacks category. But globally, we see that potato-chip sales are in the early stages of decline due to growing negative sentiment. People are on the lookout for alternatives to potato chips, and banana chips have great potential because they are considered to be healthier.
“Potato chips had transited from an unorganised to an organised sector many years ago. What we are working towards is to revolutionise the banana chips sector in a similar way, and turn it into one of the biggest savoury snack categories around the world,” Manas Madhu, founder of Beyond Snack, told FoodNavigator-Asia.
In fact, the firm has started seeing an increasing number of brands coming out with their own version of banana chips.
“When Beyond Snack first launched in January 2020, there were no other branded banana chips available in India. But now, there are a lot more of these products on retail shelves, which means that more players have recognised the demand and potential for good-quality banana chips.
“As more brands enter the field, we believe that five years down the road, potato chips and banana chips are going to hold an equal amount of market share, and the latter may eventually lead,” said Madhu.
Notably, the firm’s ambitions are backed by investments from Ashneer Grover and Aman Gupta of business reality TV show Shark Tank India. To date, the firm has received an invested sum of US$750,000.
Currently, it boasts an annual revenue of US$3 million, and Madhu expects the figure to increase by eight times in the next financial year.
“The support and mentoring from the duo have been a game changer for us. With their help, we shed our early organisational structure and became a more mature company. We managed to raise a few more funding rounds, and achieved these numbers much faster,” Madhu revealed.
Popularity in India
In India, bananas are commonly consumed as a vegetable and used as an ingredient for spicy curries.
“As a snack, savoury banana chips are very popular among Indians, even more so than nacho chips. However, people were selling them the traditional way in mom-and-pop stores, with no established parameters on hygiene and manufacturing. This is where Beyond Snack is bringing change to the game. We wanted to offer banana chips in a branded format,” Madhu said.
To do that, his team spent a year sourcing for the right crop variety and standardising the production processes, from the thickness of the banana slices and starch content to the frying time and temperature.
“We needed to build customer trust, so it was critical that the quality is consistent each time a consumer opens our pack of banana chips,” Madhu explained.
In addition, Beyond Snack worked with several flavouring companies to develop seasonings that complement the inherent taste of banana and satisfy the preferences of consumers in different Indian states.
There are currently six flavours in its line-up, including Peri Peri, Sour Cream, Onion & Parsley, and Hot & Sweet Chilli.
“The people in Maharashtra prefer foods that are a little spicy and sweet, so we created the Hot & Sweet Chilli flavour specially for them. On the other hand, the spicy tanginess of Desi Masala is more appealing to those in the northern region,” he added.
Claimed to be the top-selling banana chips across all e-commerce platforms in India, Beyond Snack is looking to gain a stronger foothold in the retail market.
“Our revenue mainly comes from e-commerce right now, but retail is the real game for a category like chips. It is always better to have a physical presence in supermarkets and all the places where consumers can easily see our product, pick it up and put it in their carts. Our focus on the retail sector is going to be much more prominent in the coming years, as we continue to build on our presence in the country,” Madhu shared.
Although currently available in some overseas markets, namely the US, Australia, Mauritius, Kuwait and Nepal, the firm has bigger aspirations for its global expansion.
Part of its strategy is the development of flavours and packaging that cater to the local population in each market.
“We will approach foreign consumers with flavours that appeal to them, such as barbecue, chilli lime and wasabi. In Asian countries like Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore, banana chips tend to be on the sweet side, so we plan to enter these markets with our savoury options in the near future,” said Madhu.