“We are significantly diversifying our product portfolio through innovation & acquisition”

Vasu Naren, Managing Director & CEO of Sona Machinery Group shares his views on the agro-processing market in India and his company's current operations and future outlook

Vasu Naren, Managing Director & CEO of Sona Machinery Group is a second-generation Serial Entrepreneur and Venture Capitalist. Today, under his leadership, Sona Machinery Group has become one of the country’s leading OEM and supplier of a diversified range of Agri-Machinery Processing and EPC Solutions for Grain based Distilleries. The Group has its presence and reaches not only across several cities in India but also across the globe.
Mr. Naren who leads with a vision to expand and leverage Sona Machinery’s 25-year legacy is in discussions to invest in promising technology ventures, also plans to explore other areas such as staffing solutions and cybersecurity. In an exclusive interview with Rahul Koul, Chief Editor, BioVoice News, he shares his views on the agro-processing market in India and his company’s current operations and future outlook

BV Logo Key milestones achieved by the Sona Machinery in more than two decades of its journey?
For more than 27 years, Sona Machinery has set itself apart in the market for the high quality of its products, its commitment to enable better business outcomes for its clients via engineering and innovation, and its superb after-sales support. Today, its products dominate regional markets in India as well as in the high-growth overseas markets of Bangladesh, Nigeria, Kenya, and Panama.
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Sectors where the company operates, and the products or services offered by it in the respective segments?
The company specializes in complete rice mill turnkey setup with a tonnage between 3TPH and 10TPH. It also manufactures rotary drum cleaners, acentric pre-cleaners, fine cleaners, vibro screen cleaners, stone separators, material handling equipment (such as bucket elevators and chain/belt conveyors), dust collection equipment (such as centrifugal blowers and cyclone separators), and flour silos. It also specializes in manufacturing grain milling machines for grain-based ethanol distilleries with a capacity between 60 and 500 kiloliters per day, grain pre-cleaners and material handling equipment with tonnage between 3TPH and 125TPH.
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Sona Machinery spends around 7% of its annual revenues on product innovation. Which are your key focus areas of R&D?
Sona Machinery understands that an organization’s success is mostly driven by its commitment to research and innovation. The highly skilled and knowledgeable staff at Sona Machinery’s research and development division work tirelessly to meet the changing demands of the sector. Sona Machinery is the indisputable leader in the agro-processing machinery sector as a result of their persistent efforts, innovation, and professionalism. The key focus lies on ideation, process and development aspects of R&D.
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What is the market size and the latest market trends in the agro processing industry?
By 2025, Inc42 projects that the Indian agriculture sector would grow to a value of US$24 billion. The sixth-largest food and grocery market in the world is in India, where 70% of sales are made through retail. The third advance estimates predict that India would produce 314.51 MT of foodgrains in FY 2021–22. India’s rapid population growth is the primary force behind the industry’s growth. This is further supported by the increasing income levels in rural and urban regions, which have boosted the demand for agricultural goods across the country.
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What strategy does the company employ to reduce costs and optimize business efficiencies?
Sona Machinery is passionately working in the agro-processing industry with the mission to develop and provide customer-oriented technology to increase yields, save process loss and proliferate profitability. The brand’s unique tool to achieve the goal of ‘Increasing profitability & growth’ is the 3C’s- continuous innovation, 24 hr consistent support, competitive pricing.
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Key R&D initiatives being spearheaded by the Sona Machinery? Capex for R&D projects in FY 2022-23?
The persistent and robust team of Sona Machinery has been working relentlessly towards bringing a positive and substantial change in the milling industry. To help the Rice millers in their noble initiative, Sona Machinery innovated and developed the fully automatic Fortified Rice Kernel Blender – The RKB30, a solution for weighing, blending and packaging, all in a single station. Additionally, the launch of new tech-driven latest machines in the agro-processing industries are a result of the aggressive R&D at Sona Machinery.
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Capex in FY 2022-23 and focus areas? Your forecast for FY 2024-25?
We are looking at an increment of 14% in the CAPEX budget over last FY and major focus is on Process Automation and Research & Innovation. The agri-machinery is growing at a very fast pace and we are looking at achieving a growth of 21% in our revenues in FY 2023 – 24.
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Which factors will drive the future growth of the agro-processing sector in India?
It is apparent that the sector is adapting to the shifting preferences of consumers nationally. Demand for handy packaged, branded food and drinks has directly been influenced by increased urbanization and two-income households. And considering that we have a sizable young population, the demand is expected to increase significantly. They have a tendency to try out new flavors, which has increased demand for fashionable cuisine.
In the post-pandemic era, the country’s growing middle class is seeking out enjoyable, natural pleasures, with food serving as a key source of them.
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What is your future outlook for the company?
Aiming to accelerate its growth, both organic and inorganic, within India and across the globe, Sona Machinery is now significantly diversifying its product portfolio through innovation and acquisition. For instance, one of its subsidiaries, Can Engineering Solutions, offers turnkey grain processing solutions for distilleries while another, Absstem Technologies, manufactures medical-grade oxygen and industrial-grade nitrogen generators. These portfolio additions will be complemented by the expansion of its operational footprint in India and internationally.