News Karnataka
Wednesday, September 27 2023

Hubballi’s jowar rotis now make it to Oz, US

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Hubballi: The humble jowar roti — the North Karnataka staple — is now crossing the seas to reach homesick Kannadigas yearning for its chewy wholesome goodness.

Growing demand from Australia, England, West Asia and the US has spawned a small-scale industry in Hubballi, a busy commercial hub 400km north of Bengaluru, with dealers and agents spread across the region. Exported in its kadak (crisp) avatar, the jowar roti has a shelf life of 6-9 months.

hubbali_rootiPoorva Food Products, run by the Patil family, discovered this niche global market and has now gone online.

Lingangowda Patil, who runs the family unit with wife Pushpa and son Girish, says they realized the demand for the roti was going up, as more people migrated from this tier-2 city to other parts of the country and world.

Started in a mess with a paying guest facility in Vidyanagar in 2011, Poorva Food Products has swiftly expanded from 2-3 women making 500-600 rotis, to around 35 women patting out 10,000-12,000 pieces a day. With sales touching 1.5 lakh to 2 lakh rotis a month, the monthly turnover of the 3,800-sqft unit, set up in the city’s industrial area, is pegged at Rs 6-8 lakh.

“We started with an investment of Rs 15-20 lakh. Now, we’ve installed a flourmill, grain-cleaning machine, and other infrastructure,” Patil says.

Business is channeled through dealers who buy rotis in bulk to sell at their own outlets and to customers spread across Karnataka, India and abroad. Like Arun Torgal, who exports rotis to Australia every three months. “Last week, I exported 16,000 rotis. Natives of North Karnataka form a major market in Australia. With the rotis, I also export flax (alasi) seed and niger seed (ramtil) chutney,” he says.

Pushpa Lingangowda Patil takes care of the quality and supplies. “We need 30-40 quintals of jowar every month to meet the demand. We also sell sajji (bajra) roti, ragi roti, half-baked chapatti, senga (groundnut) chutney, flax seed and niger seed chutney. But the demand is highest for kadak jowar roti.”

“There are many who have jumped into this business today, but they often mix other grains with jowar, which changes the taste. We use only jowar,” Pushpa Patil says.

Each roti costs Rs 3.50. About 10-12 rotis are packed into a food grade packet and placed into boxes to be exported without breakage — with three layers of packing for transport within India, and seven layers for export. “Packing and transport cost extra. Our packing ensures the nutrition value of the roti is retained,” she says.

The highest demand is from Bengaluru, Bidar, Kalaburagi and Vijapayapura in Karnataka, besides Gurgaon, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Surat and the states of Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat. Demand peaks during festivals like Sankranti and the marriage season, touching 3-4 lakh rotis a month. Online booking and payment are pushing up sales, with orders being sent to the customer’s doorstep.

“We export to Dubai, Muscat and some parts of America, besides Australia and England. A few days ago, we sold 600-800 rotis to families leaving for England and the US,” says Lingangowda Patil.

Poorva does not have an export licence yet, and is exporting through its agents. Patil has applied for one and is putting in place norms laid down by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India. “Gloves, caps and uniforms are a must for workers. The unit must be equipped with filtered water facility and have high hygiene standards. We are adopting all these norms. Once we get the licence, exports will be more regular,” Patil says.

SS Reddy of Tirumala Foods, Bidar, buys 40,000 to 45,000 rotis from Hubballi every month. “Every day, we export 200 rotis to America and 200 to England. We send rotis to Hyderabad and Tandur in Telangana, and Latur in Maharashtra, by air.”

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