Beating recession

Published : Mar 27, 2009 00:00 IST

At a farm fresh outlet in Coimbatore.-K. ANANTHAN

At a farm fresh outlet in Coimbatore.-K. ANANTHAN

DESPITE a negative growth of 17 per cent in the poultry industry in the second half of 2008, the leaders in the field, headquartered in Coimbatore, were able to step up their turnover by reaching out to new markets. Besides, they introduced value-added products and set up shops to sell chicken in clean surroundings.

A survey by Suguna Poultry Farm Limited revealed that the negative growth, from July 2008, was because egg prices had risen from Rs.1.20 a piece to Rs.2, and chicken at the farm gate from Rs.32 a kg to Rs.46 a kg. This was in the wake of a 60 per cent increase in the price of soya bean and maize, which constitute poultry feed.

B. Soundararajan, Managing Director of Suguna, a pioneer in the trade, said: "Although the size of the industry went down, Suguna was able to increase its volume of trade because it spread out to the northern States. In 2007-08, our turnover was Rs.2,000 crore. In the first threequarters of 2008-09, we have crossed this mark."

The story is the same for A. Shivakumar and S. Ashwin Subramanian, whose VKS Exports Private Limited has been adjudged the largest and best exporter of eggs for the past three years by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority. "When we entered the market in 2003 for the export of eggs, the market size was Rs.80 crore. We made it to Rs.270 crore by opening many new markets. We were the first to create a market in Africa," Ashwin Subramanian said. They then diversified into exporting buffalo meat to Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and countries in West Asia and Africa.

The young duo has set up 12 Farm Fresh outlets to sell live chicken, which will be killed and cleaned for customers in hygienic surroundings. Their target is to set up 50 Farm Fresh shops in tier II cities such as Madurai, Tiruchi, Salem and Thanjavur by December. VKS grows all its birds, and its Farm Fresh shops have 90 per cent customer retention. The duo assesses the value of buffalo meat that can be exported from India to be around Rs.4,000 crore a year. Their other products include VKS Chicken, Dola Chicken, VKS Trusalt, Piki Pork Meat and burgers. "This mix gives us a good strength in the export market.. Last year, we finished with Rs.200 crore and this year we will be touching Rs.280 crore," said Shivakumar. Piki Port Meat is exported mostly to the Philippines.

The company has two factories at Tuticorin to manufacture Trusalt and is setting up a plant at Udumalpet to process chicken.

T.S. Subramanian
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