Chennai: Hoteliers and bakers in Chennai can never ignore this gentleman with a twirled mustache, seated inconspicuously among fellow employees at Aura & Co office in Teynampet, Chennai. Meet P. Frederick, who owns a leading wholesale organization for spices, ready-to-eat, frozen foods, etc. An alumnus of Xavier Institute in business management, he serves most of the kitchen needs in and around Chennai for a long time.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Mr. Frederick knows the ‘pulse’ of Chennai’s culinary culture to its last beat. “The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the Indian hotel industry upside down. Many patrons were simply not willing to risk visiting hotels after the onset of the pandemic,” Mr. Frederick kicks off the conversation. “The pandemic and the resultant lockdown, however, have given an opportunity to many millennials and working professionals to test their culinary skills. Thanks to the ready-to-eat foods available widely across retail and online stores, hotels are now facing the challenge to prove themselves by crafting unique recipes for their customers.”
Agreeing to the fact that everyone who loses a job considers running an eatery these days, Mr. Frederick expresses his concern about the ‘copy-paste’ culture getting rampant everywhere. “If unique ice cream is successful in a particular geography, it doesn’t mean that everyone in that locality can introduce a copycat and be equally successful. Launching a restaurant is not just about the location, raw materials, and a chef in place. A hotelier must be all ears to the evolving needs of customers and make smart decisions accordingly,” he contends, citing a few examples of how some leading hotel chains made the right decisions at the right time to scale greater heights.
Food Distribution Challenges
According to Frederick, the biggest challenge in food distribution today is the logistical nightmare in transporting frozen foods. “We recently received an order to supply for a restaurant situated on the outskirts of Chennai, some 45 km away. We needed to be extra cautious while transporting frozen food, keeping in mind aspects like travel time, temperature, and power back-up. However, we might end up with a negative number at the billing stage if we over calculate,” he says, adding, “As an organizational policy, we do not have high margins on our products. I am not greedy, too (laughs). We are quite happy with the way both food product companies and our customers have lapped up our services.”
Linking Customers with Manufacturers
Aura & Co has its logistic hub located in a central zone in Chennai with four state-of-the-art cold storage facilities. The office, visited by several personalities from the world of cinema, politics, and bureaucracy, has served many hoteliers, retailers, and home bakers, too.
ADVT: Masala Chef. From the house of VPSA Paramasiva Nadar group www.thillaismasala.com) of companies. is proud to be associated with Aura & Co and wish them great success.… For collaborations and samples: +91 7397731654 or https://www.facebook.com/masalachef.in
On being asked what kind of food product brands he is keen on collaborating with, Mr. Frederick says the choice is made purely on-demand basis and ideals. “We choose any company which values our inputs; which is the voice of end consumers. There may be biggies in the market who are rigid in their approach, but smaller companies that come up with innovative variants or unique packaging to push their products.”
Aura & Co has a wide range of products to address the varying demands of hoteliers. “We understand the nitty-gritty of the frozen food business. Thus, we have 24×7-powered cold storage, which can enable operations during power failures. We do not compromise on maintaining the quality of products, as it decides the fate of both food products and hotel owners,” concludes Mr. Frederick. His immediate plans are only to focus on his existing customers and products under his own brand.