Arjun Gadkari launched Pico Sauces in 2015 with the aim of bringing authentic flavours of modern India beyond the conventional curry and into everyday British meals. Arjun is adamant that you should be able to enjoy the taste of India with whatever you're eating – and whenever you feel like it!
1. How do you sum up your brand in one line?
Pico Sauces is a creative range of spiced condiments that take Indian flavours beyond the conventional curry meal and into everything else you're eating as well.
2. Tell us about Pico Sauce’s journey and how far the brand has come since it was launched in 2015?
Pico Sauces started as part of the Nilgai Foods brand back in 2015. Since then, it has changed visually and in its design after a re-brand in 2017, as well as becoming recognised as its own entity due to the ongoing growth and success. Pico Sauces has paved the way to being an international brand showcasing India rather than an ‘Indian brand’.
3. Tell us a bit about your background and how you started out in your career – have you always worked in the food industry?
After graduating from university, I went to live in Mumbai (where I spent the next seven years), and it was there that I decided I wanted to organically find a way to be a part of the Indian food scene.
In 2011, I started Nilgai Foods, but with no clear agenda or business plan; the first few years were purely experimental. After building up my experience in creating, processing, marketing and distributing premium packaged food and drink, Pico Sauces was born in 2015. Now, Nilgai Foods is the overarching name for both Pico Sauces and my other business venture Cocofly, a range of coconut-based health drinks, snacks and cooking ingredients.
4. What's the worst job you've done?
In my first encounter with the food industry, I had to grate carrots in a restaurant in a ski resort. It was minus 12 outside and the water coming out of the taps was on the cusp of freezing. I couldn’t feel my hands for hours after the shift ended.
5. Where did the idea for Pico Sauces come from? Did you have a ‘lightbulb moment’?
For as long as I can remember, Indian food in the UK has been associated with traditional curry flavours that haven’t changed for generations. However, in recent years, India’s dynamic hubs such as Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore have re-imagined how to cook with some amazing spices and ingredients – and this is what inspired me to launch Pico Sauces.
I wanted to create a unique range of products that were authentic yet contemporary and would showcase the culinary creativity exploding across modern India – not what your grandmother cooked 50 years ago! We have taken traditional ideas and ingredients and refined them in a way to reflect what is going on in India today.
6. How are you disrupting the Indian packaged foods market?
The Pico Sauces brand encourages consumers to embrace this new, experimental culture by providing the opportunity to take traditional Indian flavours beyond the typical curry meal and place them in non-Indian contexts.
Inspired by India’s dynamic and innovative food scene, our fun range of hot sauces, ketchups and chutneys has changed the way that consumers can engage with Indian flavours by allowing people to enjoy the real taste of modern India, even if they aren't sitting down for a full-blown curry.
7. Are Pico Sauces unique?
Yes. As the only Indian food brand in the UK to focus solely on condiments rather than cooking sauces or pastes, our customers can overlay our Indian flavours regardless of what they are eating – from sandwiches and fish and chips to traditional English breakfasts and even BBQs. Unlike other sauce brands, we don’t want our customers to follow a specific set of instructions to create a specific meal.
Each one of our sauces gives you a window into the exciting innovation that is happening in India right now – traditional Indian cuisine is being re-defined by chefs and entrepreneurs, and Pico Sauces is a prime example of where Indian food is going, not where it has come from.
8. What has been Pico Sauce’s biggest achievement to date?
Our recent retail listing with Ocado, which is a dream come true. We’ve also massively increased our international presence over the last year, having expanded into the US, Canada and Singapore – with plans to disrupt Australia in 2022.
9. What's your favourite part of the job?
Seeing our products on retail shelves gives me immense pleasure that never gets old.
10. What can we expect from the Pico Sauces brand moving forwards? Is there anything exciting in the pipeline?
Pico Sauces is all about taking Indian flavours ‘away from the typical curry’ and that is exactly where our new product rollout is heading over the coming months. We are currently working on a Naga Ghost Pepper Mayonnaise – a brand-new edition of our popular Naga Ghost Pepper Sauce which we’re aware our customers enjoy mixing with mayonnaise at home. We are hoping this will be ready for next summer, just in time for BBQ season!
We also plan to expand our offering beyond our current range of sauces and condiments and into other categories that allow our customers to continue enjoying authentic flavours from modern India. Watch this space!
11. Have you ever eaten any ‘weird’ food?
I pride myself on having an appetite for the weird and wonderful when it comes to offal, and I’ve had my fair share of the quinto quarto in Rome’s famous Testaccio district, but nothing beats spiced udders on Mohammed Ali Road in Mumbai during Ramadan.
12. Where can we find Pico Sauces?
We are available in Ocado and all Booths stores - 27 in total.
We are in a growing number of independent retailers and farm shops across the country.
Also available online: https://picosauces.com/