Whenever I have a visitor from Pune, without any hesitation I ask the all important question, “Have you got for me Chitale Amba Barfi and Bakarwadi?” I am sure many of you would have a smirk on your face as we all sail in the same boat.
Establishing their first shop in 1950, Chitale has become a household name. Be it the very essential milk, delicious dairy products, mouth-watering sweets, and tasty namkeen, Chitale is the go-to option. In the times of 4G internet, Chitale is also witnessing 4G success, as the fourth generation of this successful business family is continuing the legacy in the same spirit.
The brand that has become one of the best in the business was started by Mr. Bhaskar Ganesh Chitale way back in 1930s. A proud owner of 150 buffaloes and as many cows, Mr. Bhaskar started with selling milk in his hometown in Bhilawadi. Everything was going fine, when one fine day in 1938 sudden floods annihilated everything. The buffaloes died and Mr. Chitale was left wanting.
Post the deluge, the Chitales, with the help of Mr. Tambe went to Mumbai and started their shop. Chitale and Tambe had joined hands during the war time when they extended help to the people by supplying butter manufactured by them. Unfortunately, the financial hub of the country did not give them a warm welcome. Their shop was burnt more than a couple of times. Consequently, Mr. Bhaskar Chitale decided to pack his bags and go to Pune.
“We learnt a lesson then and today instead of owning cattle, we provide subsidies to farmers to buy cows and buffaloes and source milk from them. 10000 farmers avail the subsidy from us”, averred Mr. Srikrishna Chitale, one of the Partners of Chitale Group. Humongous quantity of milk is availed by Chitale. One of the biggest users of Chitale milk is Cadbury that consumes a whopping 400000 litres of buffalo milk and 150000 litres of cow milk every day.
The first Chitale shop was opened in Kunte Chowk and the second in Deccan Gymkhana. Dairy products were sold in these two shops. After witnessing jaw dropping success in the sweet space, Chitales decided to try something new. For a while, Chitale enthralled the sweet taste buds of the people, but now they wanted to tickle the spicy taste buds. “During my visit to Gujarat, I got a chance to taste Bakarwadi and instantly fell in love with that delicacy. I discussed with my business family and commenced the production of the Gujarati dish. However it was easier said than done. People of Maharashtra did not like the typical bakarwadi taste (flavour of badishep), so we decided to add some Maharashtrian masala to it, and gleefully it worked”, said Mr. Srikirishna. Chitale products are loved world-wide with countries like USA, Ghana, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore relishing the lip smacking delicacies.
Being in the business of food, Mr. Chitale emphasized, “We never compromise on quality of our products. Cleanliness is the key. We understand that we are in the business where one bad incident can tarnish our image. Therefore, we see to it that our factories and stores are cleaned regularly. We have a separate house-keeping team that ensures the benchmark hygiene standards”.
Apart from its wide range of products, Chitale Bandhu have always made the best use of technology; be it the latest machinery to simplify their manufacturing process in their factories or the radio frequency identification (RFID) technology that is used in their stores. “We believe in keeping pace with the time which is evident from the fact that it we have adopted the RFID technology for billing and inventory control. Customers entering our stores are given RFID-enabled cards, which are used at individual counters to store their purchase details. This helps us to understand the customer demand and their preferences. Also, partial process of billing is completed at the individual counters because of these cards and at the final check-out counter, only a print out of the bill is taken, thus reducing the overall billing time”, described one of the Partners of Chitale Group.
As of today, there are 12 Chitales actively working, out of which seven are based out of Bhilawadi and five in Pune. Transparency among the business family members is what has sustained the Chitale Group for so many years. Chitale Group’s journey from distributing milk in 1930s to selling namkeen, sweets, ready mixes, and other products has indisputably been a hot and sweet affair. Their recipe for success is unequivocally worth emulating.