BENGALURU: Five years ago, Nishanth Kripakar and Vimal Thomson - both working with corporate companies at the time - found that though the demand for traditional Kerala chips was on the rise, and incidentally for them there were only a few players in the market.
“Whenever my non-Malayali colleagues visited Kerala, they asked for chips to take back home. I went around Kochi looking for local sellers who made chips and realised almost all of them made chips in store-bought oil, the quality of which was just low. Since then, Vimal and I kept a close eye on this market,” says Kripakar.
With an initial investment of Rs 10 lakh, their company ‘Yellow Chips’ was born. As per Nishanth’s research, traditional Kerala chips including banana, jackfruit, tapioca, beetroot have an estimated market size of Rs 1,200 crore. “The market is fast growing every year. By 2023, the chips market in Kerala is expected to be Rs 2,800 to 3,000 crore,” he says.
Also, almost 3 lakh tonnes of banana is cultivated in Kerala annually. Out of which, 50 to 60 per cent of the produce goes towards making banana chips, making the final yield to be around 45,000 tonnes. “The chips industry is not an organised sector. Our entry into the market will serve as an attempt to tap the immense potential of chips retail,” says Kripakar.
For this, the company has sourced human resources from Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari. At the same time, it signed up with a plant, which has a production capacity of 1,000 kg per day at Kakkanad in Kochi for the production of traditional chips. “To ensure fresh and crispy chips, we have tied up with a coconut oil extraction plant at Elamakkara,” says Kripakar.
“We are soon planning to either lease 1,000 hectares for plantain cultivation or tie up with local farmers for raw banana, jackfruit, beetroot, tapioca and other tubers.”
When Yellow Chips began operations in August 2017, it opened its first store in Elamakkara, Kochi. “We were still learning about the industry then,” says the co-founder. Since then, the company has branched out by opening another store in Gujarat.
Recently, the company raised Rs 1 crore from Alappuzha-based Madeena Group as an angel investment. To be implemented within two years, the investment will see Madeena Group’s supermarkets selling Yellow Chips products.
“We are also thinking of exporting to Dubai and Sri Lanka,” says Kripakar.
Yellow Chips has plans to open eight more kiosks and distribution outlets in Kochi by 2021. “Our target is to create a revenue of Rs 100 crore and open 100 stores in India by 2025,” he says.