After having entered India through the import route Monin has decide the market is big enough to have a factory in India to stir the Indian cocktail market. Germain Araud, Managing Director, Monin India Pvt Ltd. outlines the road map for India.

How are your plans coming up for the new factory in Telangana?

MONIN India Pvt Limited in Hyderabad was set up in 2019 to start operations directly in India from 2023 onwards. The company has acquired 40-acre land in Telangana for setting up a manufacturing site and has an exclusive in-house R&D centre in Hyderabad to develop new flavours and product categories. We have restarted our work on the industry project and plan to have its ground-breaking in the year 2023. We are moving fast towards the completion of one project in one and a half years.  Despite the pandemic, we have more than doubled the investment plan for the plant, and we plan to begin production by early 2025. Even though the last two years have been very difficult for any global business, with multiple lockdowns due to covid-19 pandemic, MONIN India has endured these tough times and is already on a path to surpassing its sales figures from before the pandemic and is very bullish of its expansion plans for this year and beyond. To address the demands of large key accounts in India, the factory will be a game-changer for us.

Has the portfolio of products been expanded in recent times?

MONIN in India is currently offering over 60 of its premium flavours out of a total of 150 flavours across the world. The company has the widest range of premium syrups, fruit mixes, Frappé and gourmet sauces. Versatile and with an unrivalled strength of flavour, MONIN products can respond to the demands of all professionals: delivering quality, multiple flavours, and originality in all applications. Apart from this, we are constantly innovating and developing new flavours for specific markets. With a dedicated Experience studio and R&D Centre in India, the team is continuously working to improvise and craft new flavour offerings and applications for the Indian Market in years to come.

Recently, we launched a new and improved Le Frappe de MONIN Vanilla, curated specifically for the Indian market. We already had the Frappe that we offer worldwide, but we wanted to develop a frappe with a taste and texture to match the unique Indian palate. It is a true ‘Make in India’ product and with this product, companies/shops can now do away with the need for large refrigerators to store ice creams. Such new developments underline MONIN’s seriousness to strengthen its presence in India. In addition, we will be introducing many exciting products, catering to the Indian palate this year. I am not at liberty to disclose much, but I can promise you- it will be exciting.

What are the growth plans for the company?

We are growing at an exponential rate in India. The demand for our products saw a new high after the pandemic – as more people began experimenting with their drinks at home, giving us a push inretail stores as well. We already have a huge client base ranging from small independent cafes to QSR chains. I am very optimistic about the company’s growth plans in India. We participated at the 36th AAHAR International Food & Hospitality Fair with its biggest presence in India. This participation was of great significance as the company reiterated its focus on the Indian market with its direct presence through MONIN India. We managed to gather great industry stakeholders, including distributors, partners, and our clients. MONIN Cup 2022 – The bartending competition that happened across India in July and August was aimed to provide a global stage for the budding bartenders of India and the massive success of the event helped us establish new collaborations in the HORECA sector.

As the competition for cocktails mixes grows, how do you plan to counter the competition?

MONIN is the most trusted brand in the world within this space. Apart from being the most preferred solution for the hospitality and F&B sectors, the iconic MONIN bottles are fast becoming a household name. Our products are made from the best raw materials- sourced organically and ethically. The purity of MONIN syrups remains unmatched. Unlikeits competition, MONIN only uses 100% pure cane sugar, for all its syrup preparations. For the last 5 years, MONIN has made a conscious effort to switch to 100% natural products with natural flavours, colours, and preservatives.  In India, 70 % of our syrup offerings are 100% naturalin flavours, colours and preservative free. At the same time, we are happy to know that the demand for such products is rising, which means the consumer is becoming more aware of the uniqueness of their palate and tastes. This further helps us to remain on our feet and constantly innovate.  We believe in growing with the consumer and India is such a unique and diverse country – so much so that MONIN has launched its first ‘Experience studio’ in India (Delhi) in September 2021, also known as the ‘House of Innovation’ which showcases experimentation with flavours and applications. The tastefully designed nature-inspired studio is spread across 3,500-square-foot in The Dhan Mill, New Delhi. After the success of the Delhi studio, MONIN is planning to open a second studio in Bangalore in Q1 2023. MONIN is very uniquely positioned in the Indian landscape because the brand has been available in India for more than 2 decades now and with the establishment of MONIN India, it has only grown closer to its customers and consumers and the years to come are worth a watch.

What are your plans for growing your distribution network?

We are strengthening our presence in the country with more than a hundred partners across our distribution network. The company has a 40+ member sales and beverage innovation team who works with clients across India to help them develop creative beverage and culinary solutions. We help the HORECA sector of the country to devise unique menus and applications. We plan to conduct several innovative industry-related programs at the experience studio in Delhi where visitors will have a chance to savour several beverage innovations and partners can showcase them through personalised menu curating sessions.

Are you considering a direct-to-consumer route?

MONIN studios are meant for professional clients and to train our team and aspiring bartenders and Baristas. We give a genuine brand experience based on our centenary brand values. It’s about giving pleasure and enjoyment by using only the best natural ingredients most excitingly and creatively. The focus here is to engage with the local HoReCa professionals and create unique tasting experiences around Monin products for culinary and beverage applications. Our mission is to be the ‘Brand of Choice’ for the customers, and we have already become a household name in India.

What has been the consumer inclination towards the brands?

MONIN has already been established as the brand of preference in India and the response we get from our products says it. The cocktail culture of the country has changed immensely over the years. We receive great responses from all over India as people started to go to social gatherings more after the pandemic. We saw a great demand for our products even when they couldn’t go out to the bar during the lockdown. The discerning consumers of the country recognise our products as high-quality ones and we challenge ourselves to come up with innovative products that best suit India’s palate. Consumers are aware of various products that are globally available and are conscious of what they consume. I am proud to say that we have struck the right chords with the wants of our consumers here and we are thrilled to serve a country already brimming with diversity, talent, and innovation.

What are your company growth forecasts?

Setting up a manufacturing subsidiary in Telangana is only the first step toward MONIN’s ambitious plans in India. MONIN is currently working through a network of 100 plus distribution partners and plans to expand its presence in tier2- tier 3 cities and raise it to 150 by next year. Besides adding more Experience Studios across India, MONIN is looking forward to expanding its flavour range for the Indian Market in years to come. Most of MONIN’s product offerings for the Indian market are already made with 100% pure cane sugar today and it continues to work towards expanding its range with healthier /no preservative and all-natural ingredients.

Furthermore, MONIN India is extremely conscious of its environmental footprint with a focus on water recycling, reuse and reduction and harnessing electricity through solar power etc as some of its conscious efforts. MONIN’s quest for the next decade is to shift to a business that basically can coexist better with nature. Creativity, Quality, Consistency, and Innovation remain intertwined with MONIN’s global vision also for India.

Do you see a sea change in the Indian cocktail market?

Bartenders and mixologists are continuously striving to bring in new ideas and cultural influences, inspiring people to drink better. I strongly feel that the newfound love for cocktails is here to stay for long as people are finding various new ways to relish their drinks. Cocktails are now enjoyed by all genders and have come a long way from being called a ‘lady’s drink’. People are now going to bars that offer a great menu with unique concepts. The recent MONIN Cup competitions showed us how bartenders are bringing in a wave of change in the way cocktails are made and served. In India, I have seen a lot of thought and love going into making cocktails. They seek more information about the story and inspiration behind their drinks. A lot of cocktail trends are currently about going locale and ones that satiate the local palate. We appreciate the uniqueness of palettes from all over the world and strive to support bartenders who craft such fantastic drinks to match the expectations of their guests.

Vincent Fernandes