Think of ready-to-cook snacks and what comes to mind? Chicken nuggets or potato wedges that need to be deep-fried or the ubiquitous pack of noodles! For those looking for healthy alternatives, there aren’t too many options that are tasty and yet nutritious. And for those with dietary restrictions, the list is even more limited.
Spying this gap in the market, Maharashtra-based food tech startup SteamUp has come up with a range of steamed snacks—momos, dimsums, sauces and other healthy options. Adding to the health quotient, all its products are not only vegetarian but also cater to those with dietary restrictions – so you have Jain momos sans onion, garlic or potato, and corn momos and tofu momos for vegans.
“SteamUp is the first-ever Pure Veg steamed brand in India. The Frozen Retail ready-to-cook category in India is worth over Rs 72,000 crore and is growing at a CAGR of 18-20%. Fried or microwavable products account for 95% of the market. We believe that in the next three years ready-to-steam products can take a minimum of 25% market share,” says Archit Sanjay Agrawal, the 25-year-old founder of SteamUp.
Agrawal faced a lot of flak from friends for selling vegetarian momos when he started SteamUp in 2020. But he was not deterred. “Within three months, I saw vegetarian and Jain customers showing a lot of interest in our products. The gap in the market was clear and I was 200% sure then about building a Pure Veg brand,” he says.
Since then, SteamUp has launched multiple Jain and Vegan ranges. It is soon launching Mock Meats and meat alternative flavours too. “We are looking to launch everything that is steamed, as it is the healthiest form of cooking and the best alternative to fried food,” says Agrawal.
As of now, SteamUp’s full range of products are available in modern retail stores, including Reliance Fresh, Nature’s Basket, Foodhall, Sahakari Bhandar, and Reliance Signature. The products are also available in more than 500 general retail stores across Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Nasik, even as the company looks to penetrate 10 more cities in 2022. It also sells directly to consumers through its website.
“We are currently seeing results by targeting upper-middle class and upper-class customers,” he says. Of special interest to the company are mothers, who decide what’s going to be on the menu at home. “Since kids have a large influence on what moms purchase, we are also targeting younger customers, who love snacking,” Agrawal adds. The firm has priced its products on a par with other frozen snacks in the market, with the range starting at Rs 149 and going up to Rs 450.
Currently bootstrapped, the startup plans to raise funds this year. In recent times, several niche food brands, such as Slurrp Farm, Naturally Yours, and Epigamia, have successfully wooed urban millennials who favour a health-conscious lifestyle and are ready to pay a premium for such products.