By Muhammad Riaz Usman
Khaleej Times, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Priyanka Mittal says her journey has been arduous but very fulfilling. She advises young entrepreneurs and business leaders: “Be persistent and have grit: A lot has been written on failing again and again till you succeed. This is easier said than done. Only remember when the ball hits the floor, the only place it can bounce is upwards. The downtime is a real test of one’s character and strength.”
While growing up in a prominent Indian business family, Priyanka Mittal inherited the flair to recognize a gap in the market and how to turn it into a business opportunity.
Since joining her family business KRBL Limited, India’s top rice exporter, as a director in 2001, Priyanka has been spearheading the development of the India Gate basmati rice brand, which accounts for over 80 percent of the company’s total revenue.
Along with overseeing the UAE and US offices, she is also head of strategy, new product development, and product diversification portfolios.
Priyanka realized that the change in people’s lifestyles has created a huge demand for healthy food products in the region. “Due to the rising demand for a wide range of healthy products that cater to large and diverse consumer groups in the region, we decided to launch India Gate Quinoa to mitigate the risks of obesity, diabetes, and mental health,” she explains to Khaleej Times.
“We intend to own this healthy food category by becoming a market leader across the UAE and other markets,”
Quinoa is actually a seed, but it is prepared like whole grains such as rice and barley. It is rich in protein, calcium, dietary fiber, folic acid, iron, is gluten-free and can cover up to 70 percent of daily nutritional needs.
“This launch is not only a part of our growth agenda, but also an integral part of our commitment to offer healthier food products to consumers. We hope this would help create a shift to a healthier lifestyle for people in the region and reduce lifestyle-related health conditions. In the next few months, we will be coming out with other variants in the health food space,” she discloses.
India Gate is the most dominant rice brand in the region with a market share of over 30 percent in most markets. It is the number one brand in the UAE, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain and Lebanon, according to Nielson.
“Our strategy is to consolidate our position further in the market and become synonymous with basmati rice. Currently, we operate in the premium category. But with these brand extensions and product launches, we would like to be part of larger dining table audiences,” Priyanka says.
Priyanka is an advocate for food security, sustainability, hunger and malnutrition issues.
“We cultivate our own grains using sustainable farming practices to provide high-quality seeds and to ensure less resource consumption and maximum production. Moreover, there are growing concerns about the capacity of agriculture to produce enough food for the growing global population. Thus, alternative solutions to sustaining and increasing agricultural productivity are essential. Due to its adaptability to harsh environments, quinoa could play a major role as an alternative staple crop. It ensures farmers higher income and does not require a lot of water for production,” Priyanka informs.
Advice for entrepreneurs
Priyanka says her journey has been arduous but very fulfilling. She advises young entrepreneurs and business leaders: “Be persistent and have grit: A lot has been written on failing again and again till you succeed. This is easier said than done. Only remember when the ball hits the floor, the only place it can bounce is upwards. The downtime is a real test of one’s character and strength.”
She cautions young businesspeople to learn to say ‘no’ to people who don’t share their dream. “Be selective. This might seem odd coming from someone who started selling a commodity. But the journey from a commodity to a brand has been my most satisfying transition. This has been achieved by being selective with employees and distributors. It’s very important to segment your partners who will champion your dreams.”
She also talks about the importance of being unique in the market. “Uniqueness need not be just with the product, however, it can give you a jump start if you have it. Uniqueness can also be in packaging, sales channel or marketing. However, let the product be the champion rather than the ancillary means to communicate the product. The product is a promise you make to the customer.”
Priyanka stresses on the need to be humble — to under-commit and over-deliver. “Remember the product is ‘you’. It’s a part of your identity that you share with customers. Every bag you sell bears that promise. Don’t succumb to competitive pressures,” she concludes.