Nilon’s is known as a leading maker of quality food product. Here’s the amazing story of the Indian pickle giant that started small.
Despite being a multi-billion-dollar corporation with a footprint across India today, Nilon’s had a humble smart.
Dipak Sanghavi, the company’s managing director and CEO, “In 1962, my father Suresh Sanghavi and uncle Prafful established the business from a home kitchen in Utran village, Jalgaon, Maharashtra.”
He adds that the family recognised the potential of food processing because of their previous expertise in the industry during World War II.
However, the Maharashtra Agricultural Lands (Ceiling on Holdings) Act, 1961, a move implemented by the government to enforce restrictions on land holdings, resulted in the family losing almost 90% of their land. They continued farming with what was left.
Suresh obtained fresh product from family-owned orchards in order to create squashes from pineapple, mulberry, mango, and other fruits.
They eventually began producing and selling jellies, jams, ketchup, and other items under the brand name Nilon’s.
The phrase was a play on nylon fibre, which was popular at the time since it had recently become the world’s first man-made fibre, revolutionising industries and lifestyles all over the world.
Dipak claims that his father developed around 50 goods during the next four years, expecting that some of them would be successful.
In 1965, Prafful even asked Suresh whether they should consider closing the business after years of losses.
And when the team added handmade pickles to their collection in 1966, things started to look up.
During those years, the government solicited bids from enterprises to sell their wares at military canteens.
As a result, the brothers applied for all four types of pickles: chilli, mango, mixed, and lemon.
They had never built a large business before and hence needed to build a 7,000 square foot plant right away.
They obtained loans to establish the manufacturing unit and began mass production of pickles.
By 1969-70, Nilon’s pickle accounted for 95 percent of total sales, and the company has never looked back since, he adds.
Dipak claims that even now, military people he communicates with cherish their recollections of eating Nilon’s pickle.
The pickles became a part of the lives of several generations of people.
“We continue to offer pickles to defence troops, but competitors are now sharing the space as well,” he adds.
He claims that the second product that became popular was a tutti-frutti candied papaya that they began selling.
Dipak says, “It was not a category in India at the time, and corporations were experimenting with adding it. However, a distributor from Gujarat, Mansukhbhai, came to our facility one day and noticed a sample of the product on the office shelf. It had not yet been released to the market and was still being tested. However, he decided to test the waters by handing out similar products at paan stores in Gujarat.”
The product acquired popularity in the 1970s, according to the second-generation entrepreneur, and can still be found in Wib’s Bread in Mumbai, as well as among dessert items from firms like as Karachi Bakery, Kwality Walls, Havmor, Nestle, Danone, Vadilal, and others.
Nilon’s now sells a range of pickles, Szechuan chutney, and other food items.
Over the years, the company has utilised a variety of technological methods to create items that provide an authentic taste to the food found in a traditional Indian kitchen.
Dipak says, “We manufacture our items with love by going the extra mile and caring for our customers.”
According to Dipak, Nilon’s intends to expand its retail presence in India from half a million to four million stores.
He believes that for the time being, he is grateful to have been allowed to carry on his family’s tradition and hopes to take it to new heights.