India’s Mr Makhana prepares for expansion in UK market

The company plans new flavours to help UK consumers "acclimatise to the taste" of the popped lotus seed snacks.

Fiona Holland March 27 2024

Delhi-headquartered Mr Makhana is preparing to expand its retail presence in the UK with its better-for-you popped lotus seed snacks.

Speaking with Just Food at the IFE trade show in London on Monday (25 March), founder Rishab Jain said the brand was “in talks with a couple of distributors” to sell its products into major UK retailers.

When asked to confirm the retailers, Jain named Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

He expects the talks to be finalised “hopefully in the next two to three days”.

A limited selection of Mr Makhana products have been sold in the UK online through Amazon since January.

The aim for 2024, Jain said, was to “get a distributor, get the product to the retail stores, build a network of retail stores and see how the product [will perform] and the responses".

Explaining the rationale behind the expansion into the UK, Jain added: “There’s this mentality [that the product is] only for the Indian or the ethnic guys, but I feel the product is very neutral in terms of taste. We can cater to everyone.”

As part of its strategy, the business is developing new flavours for the UK market to help consumers “acclimatise to the taste”, Jain said, with flavours like cheddar cheese, truffle and smoky barbecue.

Mr Makhana produces a range of makhana snacks, which are also known as popped fox nuts or lotus seeds cultivated from the water lily plant.

The company’s range includes chocolate-covered makhana, as well as more savoury flavours such as Pudina Party, Piri Piri Paradise, Butter Tomato, and Lime & Chilli.   

Besides India, Mr Makhana’s biggest markets include GCC countries such as Oman, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as well as Canada. It also sells to Japan and the US.

Founded in 2015, the business relied on outsourcing until 2019 when it set up its first local production site in Ahmedabad, which it still uses today to supply the domestic market.

Last April, the company also set up a facility in Dubai to serve customers outside of India.

Around 50 tonnes of makhana snacks are manufactured a month at the Indian plant, while the Dubai site has a capacity for 24 tonnes a year.

The company's total annual production capacity sat at around 600 tonnes last year, with a plan to increase that to 800 tonnes annually down the line, Jain said.

Mr Makhana’s total annual turnover sat around $10m in 2023, with $650,000 of the sum generated from international sales.

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