Unforgotten Brands – Nilon’s


Nilon’s story embodies the power of innovation, resilience, and family spirit. The company’s ability to adapt to changing market dynamics

Nestled in the village of Utran, Jalgaon district in, Maharashtra, a family kitchen became the birthplace of a food processing giant. 

In 1962, brothers Suresh and Prafful Sanghavi, driven by a spirit of entrepreneurship and resilience, embarked on a journey that would transform their lives and the Indian food industry.

From Farming to Food Processing

Suresh, a freshly minted agricultural graduate, and Prafful, whose education was cut short by the family tragedy of their father’s death, were determined to chart their own path. 

They saw enormous potential in the industry as a result of their family’s involvement in food processing during World War II. Leveraging their 1,500-acre lemon orchard, they produced cordials, lemon syrup, and juices for the British and Indian armies, even experiencing early success through wartime exports.

However, a government land ceiling act in 1961 drastically reduced their holdings by 90%, forcing them to adapt. They continued farming on their remaining land.

Undeterred, the brothers turned their misfortune into an opportunity. Their dinner table became a makeshift laboratory, with an array of fruits and vegetables from their family orchards for Suresh’s squash, which included pineapple, mulberry, mango, and others. Over time, they expanded their product line to include ketchup, jams, jellies, and more, all marketed under Nilon’s label. fueling their culinary creativity. 


Suresh’s passion for experimentation led to the birth of Nilon’s, named after the revolutionary synthetic fibre “nylon” that symbolised innovation at the time.

Early Struggles 

Their initial forays into the market with squashes, jams, and jellies met with limited success. So, the two of them loaded up their car with the freshly manufactured goods and began to seek possible buyers. 

Unfortunately, the response they got was insufficient, and the business was not doing well. Despite Suresh developing over 50 products within four years, profitability remained elusive. Discouraged, Prafful even suggested closing the business in 1965. But Suresh, resolute in his vision, refused to give up.

Pickles to the Rescue

The turning point arrived in 1966 with the introduction of handmade pickles. Recognizing a lucrative opportunity in military canteens, they aggressively bid for contracts. Their competitive pricing strategy secured all four pickle categories—mango, chilli, mixed, and lemon—for the next two years. This success, however, presented a new challenge: scaling up production.

With limited resources, they built a 7,000-square-foot factory and secured loans for equipment. By 1969–70, pickles, accounting for 95% of sales, had become Nilon’s flagship product, paving the way for sustained growth.

The Rise of Tutti-Frutti and a Learning Experience

Another stroke of serendipity emerged with tutti-frutti – candied papaya. While still in the experimental stage, a visiting distributor named Mansukhbhai from Gujarat played a pivotal role in the company’s expansion. During a visit to the plant, Mansukhbhai spotted a sample of a new product still under development – candied papaya, later known as tutti-frutti. Recognizing its potential, he took the initiative to test-market it in his home state.

At the time (1968-1969), paan was a popular street food in India, but the inclusion of tutti-frutti as an ingredient was a novel concept. Mansukhbhai distributed the candied papaya to paan shops, where it was combined with traditional ingredients like sweet fennel (saunf) in low-cost paan offerings. This innovative combination proved to be a hit with consumers, propelling Nilon’s tutti-frutti to unexpected success.

The popularity of Nilon’s candied papaya transcended the paan market. As bakeries and ice cream parlours gained traction in India, the demand for tutti-frutti soared. Nilon’s, capitalizing on this opportunity, emerged as the world’s leading manufacturer of papaya-based candy fruit. Their success story didn’t end there – Nilon’s even expanded into confectionery and began exporting their popular product to European markets.


However, Nilon’s journey wasn’t without setbacks. The launch of “Njoy” in the 80s, intended to compete with the popular summer drink Rasna, proved to be a commercial failure. This experience underscored the importance of market research and strategic product development.

Loss and Legacy: A New Chapter Begins

Suresh’s untimely demise in 2001 presented another challenge. Prafful, primarily focused on farms, lacked business expertise. Fortunately, Suresh’s son, Dipak, who was pursuing a management degree at the time, stepped in and ensured a smooth transition. Under his leadership, Nilon’s has continued to thrive, expanding its product portfolio beyond pickles and condiments to encompass a diverse range of culinary offerings, including Szechuan chutney.

A Testament to Innovation and Resilience

From a humble kitchen experiment to a global brand, Nilon’s story embodies the power of innovation, resilience, and family spirit. The company’s ability to adapt to changing market dynamics and leverage opportunities has been instrumental in its success. Today, Nilon’s stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of the Sanghavi brothers, a testament to their unwavering belief in the power of good food and entrepreneurial vision.

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