Do you associate instant food with preservatives? Not anymore with Yu Food Labs : The Tribune India

Do you associate instant food with preservatives? Not anymore with Yu Food Labs

Do you associate instant food with preservatives? Not anymore with Yu Food Labs

Whenever we think of instant food, what ‘instantly’ comes to mind is food that’s artificial and tastes only of preservatives? Now, Yu Foodlabs is here to change our perceptions. A consumer food startup, Yu Foodlabs is set to break the stigma around instant food by introducing a range of Instant Meal bowls made with natural ingredients and ZERO preservatives, additives, artificial flavourings or colours. Yes, you heard it right—these are food bowls that are FREE of any preservatives.

 The brand has been able to create this special product with the help of a very unique technology that gives Yu’s instant meal bowls a non-refrigerated shelf life of 12 months. Bharat Bhalla and Varun Kapur, Co-founders & Executive Directors, Yu Foodlabs, shed more light on how they are redefining the Instant Food industry in India.

 1. With numerous players in the market, how is Yu redefining the packaged food industry?

 Eating clean is becoming a lifestyle. Consumers today are more conscious about their health, dietary intake and nutrition in the foods they consume. Keeping in mind these evolving consumer preferences, Yu has re-imagined consumer packaged foods by bringing together a unique and pioneering combination of great culinary expertise and advanced food preservation technology to India. Using lyophilization (or freeze drying), chef prepared, preservative / additive / chemical free packaged foods with a 12 months shelf life are provided to consumers for every day consumption. In essence, Yu intends to change the perception of packaged ready to eat foods – from presently available foods that taste synthetic and are meant for one-off consumption to Yu’s 100% natural, chemical free, delicious foods that have become “Ready Meal Options”. This has really made the Instant Meal Bowls of Yu already stand out and get noticed in the market place.

 2. How many cities are you serving presently? Which cities are a part of your expansion plan? Do you have plans to go to international markets as well?

 Yu follows an Omni-channel approach. It launched its products on offline channels in Delhi NCR – its home market. Products of Yu are already available across 700+ modern and A+ stores in Delhi NCR. The Company has already secured tie-up’s with all leading retailers like Le Marche, Modern Bazaar, WH Smith, Natures Basket, 24x7, Reliance, Spencer’s, SPAR, 37 Krishna Marche, etc. The offline distribution in Delhi NCR is estimated to increase to 1,500+ stores by June 2022.

 Based on the highly positive feedback from customers, Yu has advanced its launch in West India and has launched its products in 50 leading stores in Mumbai MMR in February 2022. Apart from Mumbai, Yu has expanded its offline presence in Punjab and UP and is present in Chandigarh tri-city, Lucknow, Kanpur, Agra, Bareilly etc. Yu expects to be in 500+ stores across the above geographies by September 2022.

 With online channels disrupting conventional distribution approaches, Yu’s proprietary website already services 28,000 pin codes pan-India. Additionally, Yu’s products are available across the country on all large e-commerce and quick-commerce platforms like Amazon, Big Basket, Flipkart, Swiggy Instamart, Cred etc. These online channels allow a young brand like Yu to reach customers in Tier-II, Tier-III towns. From its online segment, Yu has now serviced orders from 26+ states / UTs with a substantial component being from small towns in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, and North East.

 Owing to its superior product attributes (preservative / chemical free, 100% natural), International markets remain an additional area of focus and beginning June 2022, products of Yu are expected to be available in some of the key global centers like North America, GCC, South East Asia etc.

 3. Since the inception of the brand, how has been the customer response? What is the company's expected revenue in the first year of operations?

 Yu has created “first to market” 100% natural, preservative free, truly instant products (no cooking required) making it truly stand-out and create a unique positioning in the marketplace. Early customer feedback has been extremely positive with Yu receiving significant repeat orders from offline and online segments. The adoption rate has been very high with Yu now finding place on consumer kitchen shelves as day-to-day Ready Meal Options. Yu will complete its first 12 months of operations in September 2022 and we expect to sell half a million meal bowls during this period.

 4. Tell us about your entry in the instant dessert segment? Has anyone done Instant Halwa before? If yes, how is your product better than theirs?

 The dessert segments rounds up Yu’s product range to become truly all-day! While there are select instant halwas available in the market, Yu’s Instant Halwa Bowls are handcrafted using traditional slow cooking techniques in order to rekindle a sense of nostalgia by bringing back authentic taste and flavours. Not only this, the Instant Halwa are curated by seasoned confectioners from Amritsar who have ensured that these signature Indian sweets stay true to their roots even when served in an instant format. One of our variants – the Instant Multigrain Halwa Bowl, a first of its kind “contemporary” halwa, is made using ragi, millets and whole wheat flour making it extremely nourishing. All halwa bowls are made with pure desi ghee and come with a topping sachet of cashews, almonds, raisins and pistachio.

 5. What is the current product portfolio of the brand? Which are the bestselling SKUs? What new products does YU intend to introduce in the next six months?

 Yu provides all-day meal options. Its current range of products include Instant Pasta Bowls in 3 variants (Creamy Chunky Tomato, Peri Peri and Three Cheese), Instant Fresh Fruit & Nut Oat Bowls in 4 variants (Berry Apple Cinnamon, Banana Caramel, Peanut Butter Berry, Golden Corn Spinach) and Instant Dessert Bowls in 3 variants (Gajar Halwa, Moong Dal Halwa, Amritsari Multigrain Halwa). Yu will soon launch Instant Noodle Bowls in 2 variants (Chilli Manchurian, Zingy Cheese).

 Yu will continue to innovate and bring to market an array of products in its attempt to be the go-to meal replacement option for consumers pan-India. As things stand, it has approx. 12-15 additional products in advanced stages of development / finalization.

 6. What possible collaborations are you looking forward to in the future? Are you planning any B2B collaborations to expand your reach?

 Yu continues to forge alliances and collaborations in order to expand its outreach. This includes with the likes of Amazon (to penetrate some of their global markets), WH Smith (reaching their vast customer base commuting vide metros/airports or studying in large education campuses), Big Basket (products included in vending machines in addition to market place), Cred (products part of their exclusive store that caters to high value customers) etc. B2B remains a deep area of focus and in the coming quarter, Yu should in all likeliness be onboarded onto an airline as well which is an extremely complimentary association – 4 minute, preservative free, 100% natural meals requiring no cooking available to customers as instant wholesome meals on flights. These are exciting times for Yu and such associations should not only help us build the brand but also expedite Yu’s scale up.


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