MDH dominating the modern spice trade of India. Photo MDH

Spices have a long and illustrious history, particularly in India, where they are ingrained in the culture. Traditionally spices were ground in every household until packaging and modern retail enabled the widespread distribution of authentic ground and ready to use spices. Housewives used to grind their spices at home and create mixes in their cuisine many decades ago. Mahashian Di Hatti (MDH) is one of the early innovators of the modern ground and packaged spice trade.

Mahashay Chunnilal Gulati set up the masala company in 1919 in Sialkot in British India which after independence became a part of Pakistan. After partition, Mahashay Dharampal Gulati, the founder’s son, relocated to Delhi. He set up business in a shack and began selling spices as his father had once done. As the business prospered, he opened a shop on Ajmal Khan Road in Karol Bagh. A dozen years later, in 1959, the company acquired a site in Kirti Nagar to establish his own spice processing factory.

Fast-growing demand required increasingly mechanized and automated operations. Currently, MDH produces 220 tons of spices in powder form daily, packaged in attractive consumer packs of sizes ranging from 8 grams to 500 grams. The turnover exceeds Rs 2,000 crore with marketing and distribution across India with 1,400 stockists and more than 4 lakh retail dealers in addition to its overseas exports.

With its popular message of authentic, pure and quality spices, ‘Asli Masale Sach Sach’ MDH today offers 62 products in over 150 distinct packaging options. To accommodate the ever-increasing demand for its products, it has established plants in Delhi, Faridabad, Gurgaon, Sonepat, Nagaur-Rajasthan, and Dubai. We recently visited the MDH plants in Delhi and Gurgaon to have a look at its production and in-house packaging process.

The company’s supply chain is geared to preserve consistency in flavor and quality of their spice products. Raw spices are cleaned, dried, and tested and then meticulously milled into the desired intermediate final products, which goes through many phases. For some of the spice processing steps fully automated equipment is used.

More than 50% of MDH’s production capacity comes from its Faridabad plants. In addition to its eight plants in Faridabad another two are close to commissioning with another pair in the pipeline. The company has recently launched a new packaging in a 12-gram packet of Rs 10. Convenient for producing a single meal or use over a shorter time period the company expects this format to increase sales and increase overall volumes as customers can try and use a variety of its speciality spice at a reasonable price point with the brand promise of genuineness.

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