Two decades ago, in a market dominated by Indian pickles, 39 year old Hajuri Bista’s pickles, made with ‘Nepali taste’ was a game changer. “I had a lot of free time at my hands, so I decided to participate in a three week training organized by WEAN Cooperative on food process and preservation,” reminisced Hajuri Bista, the founder of Hajuri Khadya Udhyog. WEAN had conducted the program to train housewives and to encourage them to become entrepreneurs. “After we decided to produce pickles, we conducted a market survey to find out if there was a market for our product. We found that, even then, people bought bottled pickles, however, these pickles catered to the Indian flavours. The survey helped us realize that there was a market for Nepali pickles.”
Fast-forward 24 years, Hajuri is selling 19 varieties of pickles under the brand ‘Navaras’, which is marketed byWEAN, and 17 varieties under ‘Kitchen Recipes’, which Hajuri Khadya Udhyog markets. “When I look back at my journey I realize how lucky I have been. My family supported me in this venture, because they probably thought that it would be a good way for me to pass time” shared Hjauri with a chuckle. “The only hardship that I faced then, was, learning how to run a business, from scratch.” It took three years to understand the market and people’s responses to the pickles, according to Hajuri. “It seemed difficult at the time, we participated in many exhibitions in order to meet and get feedback from our customers. But without such hard work at the beginning we would not have reached where we are today.”
“When we started, people though our business could not be sustainable. But our success changed their minds. When another pickle company came in the market we were worried if we could both find a place in the market. This incident made us realize, that our competitors were the imported Indian pickles, not the Nepali pickles, and there was a huge market for the type of pickles that we make.” A major player in the Nepali pickle market, Hajuri Khadya Udhyog is competing with the pickles imported from India, for which Hajuri Khadya Udhyog plans to increase their production capacity, and begin mass production of their pickles. According to Kratu Pandey, Advisor, Product Development and Market Research, they are looking for investment to “buy machines and automate their production process. Right now, as we are heavily dependent on manpower, we are not able to scale up our production, but after buying new machines and automating some of our processes we can begin mass production and compete with the imported pickles.” They are also planning to relocate their factory, which is currently located at Hajuri’s residence, so that they can build a much larger facility.
Kratu and Hajuri both believe that they help preserve the numerous traditional pickle recipes that are slowly disappearing due to the change in lifestyle. “We aim to retain the traditional taste of Nepali pickles for the next generation and leave a legacy that they can be built upon.” Hajuri Bista.