Happenings / News / Press Coverage
India through the eyes of René Seifert (The Economic Times)
by Nikhil Menon, March 13th 2009
(...) Brian Choudhary and Giuseppe Mozzillo met in 2004, while studying at the London School of Economics (LSE). When Choudhary learnt that Mozzillo’s extended family had been in the cheese-making business in Italy for centuries, he wanted to visit his village to know more. "I saw how different cheeses were produced and the thought struck me that we could do this in India," he says.
Choudhary, with Indian and Serbian parents, had already seen quite a bit of India since his childhood. But though the duo was enthusiastic about the proposed venture, it wasn’t until 2008 that Exito Gourmet, their Panchkula-based company was born.
"Both of us were working regular jobs for those three years—I, in New York and Giuseppe in Spain. During that time, Giuseppe met Jorge Tapia Chavero, a lawyer who also wanted to come on board. But in 2004, the laws on foreign direct investment in the food processing sector were unfavourable and we had to wait a while until they were eased by the Indian government," Choudhary says.
The Indian market was emerging slowly as awareness about different kinds of cheese grew. However, Indians are sensitive—and somewhat entrenched—in the views on milk products. "It was a risk," Choudhary agrees, "But we still decided to go ahead." In June 2008, the trio came to India and met Puneet Gupta, an Indian importer of cheese. Since he knew the Indian market well, Gupta joined Exito Gourmet as CEO. Choudhary himself handles the role of CFO. The total initial investment that went into the company was over Rs. 10 crores.
One of the earliest issues was getting all the necessary permits. "You have all kinds of food production and industrial permits to get, and the process was a long one." Recreating the flavour of authentic Italian cheese in India was also a challenge. "We put a big premium on the quality of milk we bought from our local suppliers," Choudhary reveals. Producing approximately 20-30 tonnes of eight different kinds of cheese (annualised) at present, Exito Gourmet aims to produce around 100 tonnes a year soon. Their clients consist of five star hotels and restaurants. (...)