Varun Khanna, Co-Founder, Fast&Up
The flagship sports nutrition brand of Mumbai-based Aeronutrix Sports Products, Fast&Up has recently forayed into the plant-based segment and plans to expand its portfolio in the coming times. Committed towards carbon-neutral green proteins, the brand has multiple plans in store. Varun Khanna, Co-Founder, Fast&Up spoke to nuFFooDS Spectrum about their upcoming plant-based offerings and business strategies. Edited excerpts:
Which new product launches are in the pipeline under Fast&Up?
Every month we are launching a series of new products. Currently, we are in the process of enriching our protein portfolio. Our objective is to offer good quality products to a larger Indian audience at an affordable price and make nutrition healthier, tastier, and more convenient. A couple of new products are being launched this month which are a plant-based protein, and a daily protein which is 15 gm protein per serving in a chocolate toffee and vanilla flavour. It’s made with plant-based protein, is non-soy, available in an easy-shake formula. We have also launched Good Eatz, a sub-brand under the Fast&Up banner, in partnership with Chef Sanjeev Kapoor. We are launching a line of products including ready-to-make oats which are refined flour free, sugar free, palm oil free, and soy free. It’s a 10-gm rich protein, three times more protein than the average oats and soups in the market.
We launched the plant-based portfolio during COVID-19, in September 2020. We are committed towards carbon-neutral green proteins. We have in fact launched more products in this space. We also partnered with EID PARRY which is one of the leading manufacturers of algae-based products. We have come up with plants-based Vitamin B 12, D3, joint management products, and energy products. As the category is growing fast, a lot of new entrants are coming in, you will see a lot of plant-based products being launched from our end in the next 12-16 months.
A wide variety of ingredients have been used in the making of all your products. Has Fast&Up faced any challenges in managing the supply chain mainly in terms of the ingredients?
After COVID-19, the supply chain has been distorted for a lot of companies, however, we have been directly working with large quality manufacturers for our ingredients and excipients, and we typically experience less disruption in the supply chain. For example, we source carnitine directly from the largest manufacturer and innovator of carnitine in the world. Moreover, we manufacture everything in our own facility and this facility manufactures for around 22 countries. Hence our supply chains are very robust and capable of manufacturing large volumes. We have more than 50-60 SKUs and we use more than 2000 ingredients overall. With the focus on good ingredients and partners, we have been able to manage our scales even during the hard times.
Fast&Up is backed by Swiss technology. How is this technology making your products unique, compared to other similar brands?
We acquired the brand Fast&Up and the technology from Novelty Pharma, Switzerland. We have been scaling up the technology in India through local manufacturing. A lot of effervescent manufacturers tend to use solvents like alcohol. We use our proprietary hybrid effervescent technology which is called HET. This uses no solvent and the least amount of heat. Other players’ technology uses a temperature of more than 40 degrees which actually degrades the product. In our case, our acquired technology allows retaining all the nutrients and performance of the final product.
You must be aware that a lot of emphasis has been given to the “make in India” concept nowadays. In this regard, are you planning to invest in innovating local technology to make India self-reliant?
We have built up on the Swiss technology platform, hence HET is our technology which we have Indianised and scaled up using the Swiss technology. Hence, it’s not just Make in India, it’s Made from India as well. Even if it’s Swiss technology, everything is being manufactured in India. I’m proud to say that we are not just bringing effervescence to the nation, we are the largest exporter of effervescent products from India. Working with the partners internationally, we have been able to migrate a lot of sources to India.
How much revenue was generated during FY21-22 and what percentage growth do you expect in FY 22-23? Also, which category of product has contributed the most to this revenue?
We are exporting to 30 countries from our facility in India. As a brand, we are constantly growing at 65-70 per cent CAGR. We are targeting to close this year at around Rs 220-240 crore of the net run rate of our brand. And we are en route for that, hence by March 2023, we should be close to Rs 18-20 crore net monthly run rate.
Our core products are constantly growing. For us, effervescent is obviously a fast-growing category. We have seen a good scale in our electrolytes, amino acids, daily vitamins, and minerals. We have recently launched creatine in an effervescent format. Carnitine was our top seller. We are also expecting a good gain from our plant-based portfolio which would be in the form of plant proteins and also from the Good Eatz sub-brand which is in partnership with Chef Sanjeev Kapoor. There are two large areas of growth we are seeing; one is the international markets and the second is the women’s wellness portfolio which is quite strong and robust. Hence it would be a well-diversified portfolio growth.
What is the market size of Effervescent tablets in India and what is the market share of Fast&Up in this?
The effervescent market in India is fairly nascent at the moment and most of it has been built only in the last 2-3 years. The market size would be close to Rs 150-200 crore and Fast&Up has the lion’s share in it. Also, our brand CHICNUTRIX has a good share in it.
What are your company’s major plans for the future? Any updates on expansion, acquisition, mergers, etc.?
At the moment we are looking at organic growth. From the next year onwards, we would be looking into acquisitions. Fast&Up is a household name in the fitness and wellness segment for multiple reasons. We see good growth coming in through the retail sector as we are currently present in around 4500 outlets. Over the next year, we plan to go into 10,000 outlets and, we aim for 20,000 outlets over the next two years. While we are going deeper into India, we are also expanding internationally, particularly in the UK market. We will be launching 4 more products in the UK market over the next one year. We are also planning to enter the European Union. We are entering into a partnership with a very large departmental chain from Italy and Switzerland and we plan to take this partnership across borders into other nations as well. We aim to expand our distribution next year along with our product portfolio.