Packaged food factories proliferate in RupandehiThere are 21 large plants in the district, most of them producing noodles, biscuits, pulses, oil and flour.
Food-manufacturing plants in the district had once teetered on the brink of closure as they could not compete with imported packaged foods, but things have changed now, industrialists said.
The turnaround became possible after the companies abandoned their old production style, and began churning out products in tune with public taste.
Investors are pouring billions of rupees into food manufacturing plants that produce food products that are sold not only in Bhairahawa where Nepal's second international airport is being built, but also in the capital where demand is high.
SR Foods of Omsatiya, Rupandehi manufactures different types of flour—maida, atta, chakki atta, suji and bran—using German technology. The factory has a capacity to produce 200 tonnes of flour daily. Its products are shipped to Hetauda, Kathmandu, Pokhara and Dang. “There is no problem over markets,” said Suraj Upreti, managing director of SR Foods.
“Our products are in high demand, as we produce quality products as per market trends,” he said. SR Foods has invested Rs450 million in its manufacturing plant that was established six years ago.
Hilife Foods, owned by Satya Sai Exim, recently opened a food manufacturing plant in Kalikanagar. It produces corn flakes, oats, beaten rice and grain nuggets, among other products. According to Prasant Ghimire, managing director of Hilife Foods, the factory employs 50 people and its products are sold across the country.
More and more Nepalis nowadays prefer to eat food like noodles, biscuits and cookies, and Rupandehi has seen factories producing these products mushrooming to cater to the growing demand.
Two years ago, a consortium of five reputed industrialists opened Siddhi Vinayak Food Products in Tilottama. The factory produces noodles, biscuits and cookies. The company has invested Rs1.05 billion in the noodle factory and another Rs300 million in the biscuit plant, and employs 600 people. “We have started exporting our noodles to India. We have also planned to open a soap plant,” said Ujjwal Prasad Kasaju, one of the proprietors of the company. “There are no difficulties regarding market.”
Another noodles factory, Yashoda Foods located at Madhwaliya, has expanded its market. The factory was built at a cost of more than Rs1 billion. Industrialists Kamal Malpani, Chunna Prasad Poudel and Rishi Poudel invested in the factory. They own four other factories.
The Yashoda Foods factory which opened three years ago produces three brands of packaged noodles: Lali, Zoopy and Current. “We have invested in the good manufacturing sector due to growing demand for processed and packaged food in the country,” said Chunna Prasad.
“We also plan to export our products,” he said, adding that demand for processed and packaged foods was better than they had expected. Rupandehi is transforming into a major industrial hub at a faster rate with new manufacturing units pledging to invest billions of rupees.
Industrialists say that raw materials are easily available from the Indian market, and the growing number of hotels and restaurants across the country has driven demand for processed foods. Chaudhary Foods and Pathak Foods are old players in the packaged foods industry in the district.
Tej Prasad Pathak, proprietor of Pathak Foods, said they had started diversifying their products as per market demand. “There are many factories being opened, and most of them have used the latest technology to produce foods,” said Pathak, who is also the chairman of the Forum for Consumer Rights Protection. “Manufacturers also keep quality in mind when producing foods.”
More than 350 small and large firms are registered in Rupandehi. There are 21 large factories, most of them producing noodles, biscuits, pulses, oil and flour.