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Wholesaler Up Close: Indus Foods

Indus Foods is a Birmingham-based wholesaler specialising in the distribution of ethnic foods to caterers across the UK and internationally.

First established as a corner shop in 1962, it was one of the first to exploit a gap for exotic foods in the British market, and became well known for its array of South Asian products.

In this wholesaler close up, we speak to Amir Chaudhary, operations director at Indus Foods, about how the business is continuing to be a leader in its field.

Tell us more about Indus Foods

The business was started up by my grandparents, who provided South Asian products to the multicultural community in Birmingham as the UK began to get a taste for spicy food in the 1960s.

This led to the formation of Indus Foods as a wholesale organisation in 1972, and we soon began to import from the Asian continent, setting up our own processing and packaging production line on site, which still runs today.

As an independent wholesaler, we’re passionate about supporting our customers, many of whom are small operators in the catering sector.

We work with them to help develop their businesses and promote equal opportunities for independents through our membership of Unitas, the UK’s largest group of independent wholesalers.

We also sit on the council of members of the Federation of Wholesale Distributors(FWD), which represents the industry at a national level.

What products are in your range?

We supply a wide range of ethnic ambient, chilled, and frozen goods to more than 5,000 retail and foodservice customers in total.

We import from 125 countries to source the best products available, for example bringing in our sultanas from Iran, and almonds from California.

Our own-brand ranges are very popular with customers. Sanam offers them quality ingredients including spices, lentils, and dried fruit, with our Shaan line consisting of tinned products, frozen food, and rice and nuts in bulk. Some of our best selling products are our Shaan cashew nuts and pangasius fish.

We also sell non-food items, with our lemon tree and leaf green cleaning products consistently in-demand.

What makes you stand out from the competition?

We’re well known as a champion of independence for working with smaller caterers, and going the extra mile to help them build their businesses.

A lot of our customers are start-ups and entrepreneurs who know where they want to be in the industry, but not necessarily how to get there.

Having been in that position ourselves, we have more than 50 years of experience to help them create a bespoke marketing strategy, and provide support with products and pricing structure.

On the other hand, some of our customers are among the highest rated on the Just Eat platform in the UK, so we always look to innovate to help them stay at the top of their game.

For example, we’re currently developing an app, which will allow our products to be purchased via a seamless, mobile process, saving valuable time for busy chefs in the kitchen.

What are Indus Foods’ next steps?

The app is in a beta testing stage, and will help us remain at the forefront of the industry.

For the first time, our customers will be able to make orders from the touch of a button on their smartphone, and the app will be integrated with Erudus, providing instant access to nutritional and allergen data.

And having joined the prestigious FWD council of members, we will be playing an important role representing small wholesalers to make sure they can access all benefits and support available from the FWD.

How does Erudus help the business?

Erudus is a fantastic asset for Indus Foods and our customers. Before using it, answering queries on allergens was often an arduous task, but now we can log on to access all the information we need straight away.

It provides not just us, but the whole industry with a consistent level of data that we can rely on.

The fact we can integrate the software on our app is also a major benefit, and provides added value to the caterers who will be using it.

As we’re well aware of the benefits that Erudus brings, we also recommend it to others in the industry as part of our role within Unitas, helping set out the group’s foodservice strategy.