Harvest Gold: A startup before the startup boom

Pushing a business idea out the gates and building a successful model based on that single idea, requires a combination of many factors. This includes strategy, startup capital, resources, acumen, and relentless hard work combined with luck.

For the past couple of years, the startup economy has boomed with much help, advice and resources available for entrepreneurs. But what was it like to be a startup before the startup economy took off? Before the digital boom and the information overload, success stories were based on instinct, a keen acumen, and timing your idea right.

The Harvest Gold case study is one such example of a startup that was ahead of its time. Launched in 1993 by a couple who ‘couldn’t find decent, fresh bread’ in the city, Harvest Gold has grown from a single production facility in Bhiwadi, Rajasthan to a renowned FMCG brand that dominates the NCR bread market with four world-class production units.

The beginning

Adil Hassan, a chemical engineer from IIT Delhi and Taab Siddiqi, with an MBA from Aligarh Muslim University shifted base from Singapore to Delhi to pursue their entrepreneurial dream. Sensing the void in the bread market and the absence of good quality, fresh bread, they came up with the idea of Harvest Gold Foods and started production in June 1993, at their uber-modern facility in Bhiwadi, Rajasthan. Their initial installation capacity was of 75,000 loaves of 800 grams each a day and they produced a premium range of Harvest Gold white bread that was sold at Rs 7 per loaf for 400 grams and Rs 13 per loaf of 800 grams.

Their bread was a runaway hit, achieving a turnover of Rs. 400 million within five years of launch. The founders soon diversified into other products like hamburger buns, pizza bases, pav, flat breads, rusk and ready rotis.

Investing in great minds

Harvest Gold’s business strategy focused on customer satisfaction and high quality, right from the outset. The company didn’t skimp on the fundamentals, be it state-of-the-art equipment or getting talented professionals on board. For instance, the head of its engineering team that designed the production equipment came with missile design experience from Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO).

This innovative approach and out-of-the-box thinking have been a constant in the Harvest Gold story. Whether it is engineering, logistics, product development or advertising and branding, they have pushed the envelope.

Product diversification

The bread range alone has extended to include over a dozen variants including the more nutrition-packed multi-grain and gluten-free breads to cater to the discerning, health-conscious consumer. With varieties of buns and pav, flat breads and a winning product called the Ready Roti that is ‘heat and eat’ version of traditional, Indian phulka, Harvest Gold products are now the ubiquitous staple in the NCR household pantry.

Harvest Gold’s positioning has never wavered from the promise of high-quality, fresh and nutritive bread that it started with.  From manufacturing practices to packaging, to distribution and logistics to marketing and branding – the one imperative has been quality. In fact, their old advertising tagline ‘Bakwaas Advertising, First Class Bread’ still rings a bell with several customers and is widely considered to be a branding masterstroke.

Joint venture with Grupo Bimbo

In May 2017, Harvest Gold reached a new milestone. They announced a joint venture with one of the world’s largest baking company – Grupo Bimbo. This was also one of the first instances of a global company joining hands with an Indian bread and bakery manufacturer. Harvest Gold aimed for this acquisition to gain international expertise and experience to the local bread manufacturing practice.

Today, Harvest Gold sells its products across Delhi, NCR, Rajasthan and Eastern UP. It is often cited as a management case study for its gradual but consistent progress and success with clever business strategy, divergent thinking in one of the biggest markets.

About Harvest Gold India:

Harvest Gold India is a food company based in New Delhi, India. Founded in 1993, it produces a variety of food products including Bread, Buns, Pav, Roti and Pizza Base. The founder and Chairman of the company are Mr. Adil Hassan and Ms. Taab Sidiqqi. The Group has expanded into many units in the northern region of India with its headquarters in New Delhi. The company is a joint venture between Group Bimbo and Ready Roti India PVT LTD.

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