‘Micro flour units need govt support to procure wheat in small volumes’: Mahendra Kumar Behera, Behera Udyog

November 30, 2018

Company: Behera Udyog
Founders: Mahendra Kumar Behera
Place: Cuttack, Odisha
Turnover: Rs 8 lakh

Many of us have tasted local cuisine made from different kinds of flour. Chakki atta and besan are two of the most commonly used flours in India. While atta is used to make chapatis, rotis, parathas and puris, besan is mostly used to make  laddoos, pakoras, and other snacks.

In 2011, recognising the widespread use of flour in Indian cooking, combined with his retail business’ capacity to produce it, Cuttack-based businessman Mahendra Kumar Behera (44) invested Rs 4 lakh to launch Behera Udyog. The company produces atta and besan in its flour mills and sells it to local dealers and retailers.

Behera, leveraging experience gleaned from his time as a retail shop owner, took this business to new heights. It now clocks a turnover of Rs 8 lakh and seeks to venture into producing mustard oil and spices.

In an interaction with SMBStory, Mahendra Kumar Behera, Founder, Behera Udyog, shares more about this entrepreneurial journey.

Edited excerpts:

SMBStory: How did you visualise the company?

Mahendra Kumar Behera: I am a first generation entrepreneur who started off by owning a retail shop. At this time, I started manufacturing some items so I could sell them in the shop, and began to grow. I decided to install a flour mill and wheat husk cleaner to produce good quality atta. I also installed de-stoning magnetic separators to get a better quality product.

With these assets in hand, I decided to launch a flour brand by investing my own money. Now, we produce atta and besan which we sell to retailers. The raw materials are wheat and chana dal, and the flour is produced in our mills without any adulterants. Now, the unit is slowly diversifying into spices and edible oil.

SMBS: What is the market size of the sector and how are you differentiating from the competition?

MKB: There is stiff competition in the market and our share is just 0.2 percent in Cuttack. However, we have launched a polishing mill which separates husk from wheat and ensures a good quality product. This will help us capture a good share in the local market in the near future.

Further, the local customers are highly satisfied with the quality of the product. Each day’s produce gets sold out, and none of it is on credit. We also utilise our own vehicles in transportation and delivery, thereby minimising costs.

SMBS: What are your challenges in terms of sustaining and growing the business?

MKB: My unit cannot afford advertisement costs to reach the public across Odisha. Further, the purchase of wheat from government warehouses is restricted to 100 tonnes, which is quite impossible for micro units.

The MSME Ministry should help us by negotiating with the concerned authorities to procure wheat in denominations of at least five tonnes and above. With this, we can welcome more entrepreneurs in the same trade and give a healthy competition.

SMBS: What is your dream for your business?

MKB: We want to continue producing good quality products and sell them at affordable prices. We also want to get into making mustard oil and spices. For this, we have already purchased land and constructed the shed and other necessary infrastructure. The machines are currently being installed.

I can make use of several marketing and diversification strategies I picked up while selling some of our products. As a company, we will also regularly collect feedback from customers to improve our products.

(This story is published in partnership with the MSME Ministry to showcase success stories of SMEs)‍

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