Chitale Bandhu, one of Pune’s most loved homegrown brands, has been a part of our daily lives since, well, forever! We’ve all devoured their Bakarwadis, Amba Barfis and so, so much more! I recently got acquainted with Indraneel Chitale, a warm, kind, dedicated and extremely hardworking member of the Chitale family. Here’s a quick chat we had about his work, the brand and, of course, Pune!
Knowing that Chitale Bandhu has been a part of your entire life, what was your childhood like in that regard?
My childhood was fascinating. Especially the holidays when I got to move around with my grandfather across our manufacturing units. That was my first exposure to the business that my family was in. Being present in the Milk business, our days start very early; seeing all the big trucks unloading, milk being packed, all the mithais being made was a real treat back then. Beyond that it was mostly books and sports and some brownie points for having Bakarwadi and Kaju Katali in my afternoon school tiffin!
What do you love most about Pune?
The history of the city and the culture that it has created is something I love about Pune. The fact that we have some well-maintained tekdis and hiking spots is another thing I love. Thirdly, the close-knit nature of Pune which ensures that almost everyone knows everyone!
Tell me about some of the challenges you face in your line of work.
Adopting automation has been one challenge we always face. Particularly challenging is standardising our recipes so that machine manufacturers abroad can work on our products as so far, they’re not aware about traditional Indian products.
Another challenge has been managing labour; given the various unfavorable influences in industrial areas, creating a sustainable HR environment is challenging in India.
The most important challenge has and will always be ensuring that the freshest products are available at all retail points for customers. Since many of our products have a short shelf life, managing the supply chain, production planning and ensuring the customers get the safest, freshest product is something we strive for.
If you had to describe Pune in three words, what would they be?
Green, Cultural and Peaceful!
Three of your current favourite products at Chitale Bandhu?
Amba Shrikhand, Badam Mewa and Shev Kachori!
What are your day-to-day responsibilities at work?
I handle the manufacturing and operations part of the business. My scope of work lies in ensuring that the products are delivered to the customer (in-store, distributors or exporters) in the most optimised manner. To achieve this, I look after procurement of raw materials, production planning, process and technology upgradation. I also focus on R&D and Product Development.
Can you think of similarities between Pune as a city and Chitale Bandhu?
Both Pune and Chitale Bandhu have evolved over time to remain relevant, technologically advanced and yet retain the strong value systems. We both have a strong and interesting history, and we are both trying to make better things based on it.
The Punekar recently turned ten and with this interview, we start a series (#TenAndNow) of a total of ten places, people and things we absolutely love about Pune. We couldn’t think of a better way to kickstart this series than with a man who’s been a part of one of Pune’s most cherished homegrown brands. Stay tuned, Punekars, nine more to go!