The PRAN-RFL Group is one of the largest conglomerates in Bangladesh with a dominant position across the food, beverage, and plastic industries.
Its main objective is to help reduce poverty and boost the agricultural sector in Bangladesh, with a focus on creating job opportunities and promoting dignity and self-respect among its peers.
PRAN has been working towards this goal since 1981, particularly in developing the agricultural and rural areas of the country.
Additionally, PRAN holds the distinction of being the largest agro-processing company in Bangladesh. PRAN-RFL has a strong presence in both domestic and international markets, exporting to over 145 countries.
The Story Behind Building PRAN
Back in 1980, after retiring from the Bangladesh Army Mr. Amjad Khan Chowdhury, he established a small business named Rangpur Foundry Ltd (RFL) to produce irrigation pumps. The company’s goal was to assist farmers in irrigating their land by producing cast iron items such as centrifugal pumps, as well as ensuring access to drinking water through tube wells.
RFL quickly broadened its operations and now offers a diverse range of products, including pumps, tube wells, and gas stoves, becoming the most extensive cast iron foundry and light-engineering workshop in Bangladesh. Following that, Mr. Chowdhury conceived the idea of establishing PRAN and leased six acres of land in Narsingdi soon after.
He recognized that the crucial factor for triumph in agriculture was to extend the shelf life of the produce. Therefore, he concluded that instead of selling the products immediately, they should be processed.
In 1980, Mr. Chowdhury established PRAN with an ambition to revolutionize the food production sector and enter the food-processing industry. In 1981, they merged PRAN and RFL to form the PRAN-RFL Group.
In 1986, PRAN expanded its activities by venturing into agriculture with the implementation of contract farming. In 1992, PRAN further strengthened its position in the industry by establishing its food processing plant in Ghorashal. Initially, the company began by producing canned sliced pineapples and eventually progressed to manufacturing mango drinks, jams, and jellies, with a focus on serving both domestic and international markets.
When Mr. Chowdhury launched PRAN, he aspired that one day, the agricultural produce of Bangladeshi farmers would be consumed at dining tables in Europe. In a few short years, he was able to accomplish this objective as PRAN made its initial export to France in 1996.
In 2010, Mr. Chowdhury expressed his contentment, saying, “That dream has come to fruition – whether it is Chinigura rice, spices, mango drinks, or snacks. That ‘Made in Bangladesh’ label represents the flag of Bangladesh.” PRAN presently exports its products to 145 countries, serving approximately 300 million customers, according to the company’s data.
PRAN-RFL merchandise is readily available at popular retail chains such as D-Mart (India), Wilkinson (UK), Dollarama (Canada), Carrefour (France), and ECI (Spain). Moreover, PRAN has established its sales and distribution networks in several countries, including the USA (NY), Australia, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, India, Oman, Malaysia, Singapore, and Somalia. These networks comprise fully functional offices, warehouses, and other facilities. The company has even started its production plant in India to expedite its continual expansion.
Chowdhury became a trailblazer in the agro-processing industry and a prominent entrepreneur in Bangladesh. He maintained that agriculture was essential to the survival of humanity, and as such, the productivity of agriculture must be increased for Bangladesh to continue to thrive as a modern democratic nation. He proposed a comprehensive approach to agricultural production, which was the corporatization of agriculture. Contract farming was also endorsed by Chowdhury, and he had agreements with 100,000 farmers throughout the country.
The outcome of the contract farming approach has been beneficial for both the farmers and the agro-processing industry, with the farmers receiving market prices for their produce and the agro-processors securing a guaranteed supply.
Chowdhury was also interested in the dairy industry as he saw untapped potential in the sector. To help farmers produce more milk by increasing the productivity of each animal, PRAN Dairy made significant investments in the sub-sector.
PRAN currently provides direct employment to around 80,000 individuals and indirectly supports 200,000, with the livelihoods of 1.5 million people depending on the group.
PRAN exports a wide range of products from seven out of the top 10 potential sectors, including agricultural goods, plastic products, ready-made garments (RMG), footwear, light engineering, chemical products, and furniture, to approximately 145 countries. Although the RMG sector accounts for about 80% of the country’s total export earnings, Ahsan Khan Chowdhury, the son of PRAN-RFL Group founder Amjad Khan Chowdhury and current CEO of the company, emphasized the need for diversification to achieve the overall export target of $80 billion by 2024. The plan is to include all of their products in the export portfolio to reach export targets of $1.0 billion and $2.0 billion by 2025 and 2030, respectively.
Product and services
Pran-RFL Group has more than 8,000 products and 100 brands.
Following are some of the major sectors where PRAN-RFL has a presence:
- Food and beverage division: It offers a wide range of products, including juices, snacks, dairy products, and bakery items.
- Plastic division: It produces household and industrial plastic products such as containers, furniture, and pipes.
- Agribusiness division: It produces crops, livestock, and fisheries products
- Homeware division: Produces products such as kitchen appliances, furniture, and electronics.
- Culinary: This category includes food products that are typically used in cooking or as ingredients in recipes. Examples of culinary products offered by Pran Biscuit & Bakery might include cooking oils, spices, and condiments.
- Dairy: This category includes products made from milk or dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt. Pran Biscuit & Bakery might offer dairy products such as milk, butter, or cheese.
- Snacks: Snacks are food products that are typically consumed between meals or as quick snacks on the go. Examples of snack products offered by Pran Biscuit & Bakery might include potato chips, nuts, or granola bars.
- Confectionery: Confectionery: Confectionery refers to sweet food products, such as candy, chocolate, and desserts. Pran Biscuit & Bakery might offer confectionery products such as cookies, cakes, or chocolates.
PRAN-RFL Group is one of the largest and most diversified conglomerates in Bangladesh, with a range of products and services across various sectors, including agribusiness, plastics, furniture, electronics, and more. The company has a strong presence both domestically and internationally and has set ambitious targets to double its export earnings by 2025 and reach USD 2 billion by 2030.
PRAN has a reputation for producing quality products at affordable prices, which has helped the company to establish a strong foothold in various markets. The company has also invested in new technologies and innovations to improve its manufacturing processes, product quality, and customer service.
However, like any company, PRAN faces some risks and challenges, such as currency fluctuations, political instability, and changes in consumer preferences. Additionally, the company’s rapid expansion and diversification into new markets and products may also expose it to greater competition and operational risks.
PRAN has won numerous awards for its contributions to Bangladesh’s economy and society, including the Best Brand Award and the National Export Trophy. The group has also been recognized for its corporate social responsibility initiatives, which include supporting education, health, and disaster relief efforts. PRAN is a prominent player in the Bangladeshi business landscape, with a commitment to innovation, quality, and sustainability.
Overall, PRAN-RFL Group is a well-established and diversified conglomerate with a strong presence in Bangladesh and other countries. The company’s future growth prospects and financial performance will depend on its ability to adapt to changing market conditions, manage operational risks effectively, and continue to innovate and diversify its product range.