CHENNAI: Five years ago, Nishanth Kripakar and Vimal Thomson — both working with corporate companies at the time — found that though demand for traditional Kerala chips was on the rise, there were only a few players in the market.
“Whenever my non-Malayali seniors and colleagues visited Kerala, they asked for chips to take back home. I went around Kochi looking for local sellers who made chips and realised there were only a few such places. And, almost all of them made chips in store-bought oil, the quality of which was low. Since then, Vimal and I kept a close eye on this market,” says Nishanth.
With an initial investment of `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 `1,200 crore. “The market is fast-growing every year. By 2023, the chips market in Kerala is expected to be worth `2,800 to `3,000 crore,” he says.
Also, almost three lakh tonnes of banana is cultivated in Kerala annually, of which, 50 to 60 per cent of the produce goes towards making chips. So the final yield is 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 Nishanth.
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 Nishanth. “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 `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 Nishanth.
Yellow Chips has plans to open eight more kiosks and distribution outlets in Kochi by 2021. “Our target is to create a revenue of `100 crore and open 100 stores in India by 2025,” he says.