Akansha Pandey (email@example.com)
Headquartered in Goa, Wakao Foods is a jackfruit-based vegan food brand launched in December 2020. Today, the brand supplies to over 70 restaurants pan India and has even exported to a few countries as well. Export to Dubai is now on a regular basis. Alongside, the company is building its export line-up to the European market and is on the verge of finalising talks with 20 more countries, said Sairaj Dhond, Founder and CEO, Wakao Foods.
Seeing the demand, the company is also eyeing to expand aggressively across the Indian geography through HoReCa distributors, taking the tally from four distributors currently to more and getting on board national tie-ups with food brands. Wakao Foods supplies to all 18 Hilton properties in India, ibis hotels pan India, Oberoi Hotels, Marriott Hotels, Burma Burma restaurants across the country, London Taxi and other restaurants and cafes.
Wakao’s distribution network is already operational in Chennai, Mumbai, Pune and Goa. To further increase the market share, cities such as Surat, Kolkata and Bengaluru will soon see the appointment of new distributors.
The company also plans to launch seven more varieties of the Jackfruit product range, four of which will be unveiled in April 2022 and the rest going forward this year. Dhond divulges that the new launches are being designed keeping in mind both the international and the desi Indian palate.
The startup rose to wide fame after getting featured on the TV show Shark Tank India where the Founder diluted 75% of the company’s stake thereby raising funding of Rs. 75 lakhs. He now owns the remaining 25% stake in the food brand.
Veganism or consuming plant-based meat is already a trend globally. In India, people have started waking up to the concept and it’s bound to grow by leaps and bounds. Dhond read an article that said that jackfruit is the superfood of the world. He dived deep further to know more about the naturally fibrous fruit and realised how easily it can be grown and consumed at ease.
Dhond adds, “Jackfruit is a very sturdy, rugged and low-maintenance crop which can be grown anywhere. It is such a versatile product and with Wakao Foods ensuring the constant supply of the product, the Chefs across the industry have widely accepted the product offerings by us. Chefs are particular about the continuous supply of the products and Wakao has guaranteed the same year-round. Moreover, vegan menu dishes have also taken limelight given the market demand and simultaneously brands trying to raise their sustainability quotient by partnering with us.”
Wakao Foods provides raw jackfruit and Burger Patty in large quantities to the B2B players. B2B is driving 60% of the sales for the company, with the HoReCa segment exceeding expectations. Dhond exclaims that from New Year (2022) onwards, the business has been going strong.
The two biggest USPs of Wakao Foods are that firstly, it doesn’t require refrigeration and has a one-year shelf life and secondly, the company makes it available year-round. The company also avails the raw jackfruit after cutting which is highly appreciated by Chefs as it reduces their preparation time from two hours to 10 minutes.