Late 2007 Sanket Gupta had just graduated Galgotia College of Engineering in the Greater Noida area. Like many aspiring entrepreneurs, he was full of ideas. He could be a retailer, a chocolatier, and a technology entrepreneur.
Four years later, after trying many things, a discussion about how the seafood retail industry was 95 percent disorganized caused it to change direction. It led him to start seafood.
“I traveled all the way from Delhi to Nellore and Bhimavaram in Andhra Pradesh to understand how prawns were grown and sold. I also visited local markets that supplied fish that was at least seven days old. Freezing could be a way to get around Bring fresh prawns and fish to market, ”says Sanket.
In Andhra Pradesh, Sanket began speaking to farmers and supply chain solution providers. Both sides stated that seafood was marginally stale when entering major cities because it was “on ice, not frozen”.
Clearly frozen the way forward when seafood was being transported, Sanket began trading seafood like any ordinary merchant arranging business across the country. He did this for six years and learned the tricks of the trade. He soon realized that he was ready to improve the value chain – from retailer to manufacturer – and create a brand in the process. He set up a food processing unit in Bhimavaram and worked with over 20 farmers on 30 acres to source shrimp and fish. And then the United Industries brand was born in 2016.
Today the company cultivates and harvests 45 tons of shrimp and fish per month. After the harvest, the seafood is cleaned and quickly frozen one at a time to maintain freshness for a week.
“This means that the fish will stay fresh within five to 15 days of reaching the plate. We have more than 30 customers who purchase directly from us, including meat e-commerce companies, ”says Sanket.
In 2016, Sanket roped his sister, Shipra Guptato take over the marketing and running of the company. “I was a tech freak and worked in some IT companies when my brother started growing the business across India. As a trader, he set up a factory, integrated farms, and B2B clients. I came to help him brand and expand of activities, “says Shipra.
Both met big hotel chains like the Taj Group of Hotels and the Oberois to get them to try and try their products. With high quality standards in terms of harvest, cleaning and supply chain, United Industries became the preferred supplier for these chains. The company works with 27 HORECA customers.
In 2019 the company launched its own B2C brand called Aquastar and started delivering fish directly to consumers. In 2020, when the pandemic broke out, the brand reached out to WhatsApp to ensure operations weren’t impacted. It began planting churches in cities where it operated including Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi to deliver seafood for direct orders on WhatsApp.
“The pandemic hit the supply chain hard for two months. This affected our B2C and B2B business. Since seafood is an essential product, we’ve made its way into retail stores and markets. WhatsApp helped us clear stock and we were able to work with our farmers in Andhra Pradesh, ”says Sanket.
The range of products in the Indian industry includes a range of seafood including fresh ones like Vannamie prawns, Indian basa, pomfret, surmai, tilapia, mahi and rohu, as well as frozen products like IQF prawns, Vietnamese basa, river salmon and Bombay duck, and more . United Industries has made a name for itself in the IQF shrimp trade.
The founders of United Industries, Shipra and Sanket
The family company’s business model is simple – It buys from farmers at a Farmgate price and sells it at Rs 570 and then sells them in the market with a margin.
The startup competes with distributors such as Amigo, Siam Canadian and Angel Plus. These companies also supply the HORECA market. According to E & Y. HORECA is $ 55 billion to $ 65 billion for grocery purchases Market in India.
Last year United Industries did one Revenue of Rs 25 crore. It has big plans for the future: it is slated to become a 100 rupee crore business in five years. The company, which doubled its B2B customers in 2021, plans to invest in its D2C business and increase its market share in the North, West and South markets.
According to Expert Markets Research, seafood is a $ 15 billion market in India and will double in five years.
“It’s a great market in India. There is increased protein consumption, and seafood is a great way for people to increase their protein intake. United Industries will scale very quickly, ”says Shipra. Edited by Teja Lele Desai