Friday, May 08, 2009: 07:05:57 PM

TFPJ Personality of Fortnight

Savouring fruits of success − Ashok Motiani, CMD, Freshtrop Fruits Ltd

Freakin' Awesome! Freakin' Awesome! Freakin' Awesome! Freakin' Awesome! Freakin' Awesome!

Mr Ashok Motiani, CMD, Freshtrop Fruits Ltd

In spite of starting his career in the packaging business, Ashok Motiani has built and led a successful food processing company. Today, his commercial venture, Freshtrop Fruits Ltd, is one of the most reputed names in India’s fruit manufacturing and export sector.
 
Opportunity knocks
 
An engineer from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Mumbai, Mr Motiani began a small business of manufacturing corrugated boxes for packaging fruits and vegetables. Having gained enough knowledge about the packaging and exporting aspects, Mr Motiani decided to diversify. With Freshtrop Fruits Ltd he entered the food processing and export business.
 
He established Freshtrop Fruits Ltdon September 30th, 1992 with the experience gathered from working with a fruit merchant, who was his customer in his packaging business. Together, both entrepreneurs conducted a survey of the supply market of Indian fruits and vegetables to the Gulf and realised the latent potential of fruit exports.
 
Retracing the journey
 
Recollecting his journey, Mr Motiani says, “It was a rough ride in the beginning. But gradually, the business stabilised after some time. Now, the time has come to accelerate and expand."
 
It was difficult to win a steady and reliable foreign clientele, given India’s reputation as a developing nation with questionable food hygiene levels. The first challenge was to prove to clients that Freshtrop maintained high levels of hygiene in its post harvest handling facilities.
 
Mr Motiani had to personally convince growers that they had to produce grapes of a quality required by the European supermarkets, which was significantly different from what they used to grow for the domestic market.
 
A seasoned leader
 
Mr Motiani personally oversees every stage of work. He manages everything right from R&D to production and marketing to development. He has tried his best to ensure that the products manufactured by his company are of premier quality and meet the customers’ specifications.
 
Mr Motiani takes keen interest in the development of farmers and growers, who form the backbone of his business. He constantly interacts and educates them about good agricultural practices. He strives hard to provide them international exposure and markets their products, thereby earning them healthy return on investments. He also maintains an ongoing business relationship with them by buying the best produce every year at fair prices.
 
A bright future
 
Talking about the emerging trends in the Indian food markets, Mr Motiani explains, “Consumers in India are now more aware of the effects of food on their health. With better roads and responsible retailing, entrepreneurs believe that the distribution of fruits and vegetables will change drastically in the coming few years. This opens new opportunities for companies like Freshtrop in the domestic market.”
 
Mr Motiani is also working towards offering Indian farmers an appropriate market for their produce. He expects to see a quantum jump in Freshtrop’s sales and profits in the following years. “For the kind of investments already made by us, and the investments we intend to make in the near future, we should be able increase our sales from Rs 50 crore to Rs 500 crore in five years,” quips Mr Motiani.
 
On the personal front
 
With such a busy schedule, Mr Motiani hardly finds time to unwind. Even on vacations to foreign destinations, he is trying to figure out if the place could be a prospective market. However, when he does find some time, he enjoys playing cards with friends; discussing sports, especially IPL, watching movies and eating out.

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