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ITC to launch 'super safe' spices under MasterChef brand
Business Standard - 09 Jan 2017

To  foray into fruits, vegetables and seafood segment next

Diversified conglomerate ITC, which is eyeing a Rs 1 lakh crore turnover in FMCG business by 2030, is all set to launch its speciality spices under the MasterChef brand this quarter.

Spices under the brand are tested for 450 chemicals, toxins and other contaminants as against only nine parameters that are required to be tested in India. Besides, the company is also all set to enter the fruits, vegetables and seafood segment this year, and ITC MasterChef is likely to be the umbrella brand.

ITC's chief operating officer, Sanjiv Puri, said that these would be super safe spices given the number of tests they would undergo. "As such, laws require tests to be done to check around nine parameters in India. But, these would be tested for 450 parameters. We are working very closely with farmers on this project," he said.

While he did not wish to share the segment-specific investment figures, he informed that on the whole, ITC has drawn up an overall investment plan of Rs 25,000 crore for creating national assets, under which 65 projects are already underway.

He added that ITC would focus on the wellness aspect of packaged food as it feels that it can not only act as a differentiator from the competition but also that there is a growing demand for such options among health-conscious consumers.

Last year, the company had launched some locally popular spices under the ITC MasterChef brand in states like Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Now, it is looking at a national launch as well as to widen its portfolio. Puri informed that this segment would see new product launches this year.

As such, ITC Spices' business is located in the chilli capital of the world, Guntur in Andhra Pradesh. It is one of India's leading producers and exporters of backward integrated food safe spices and already engages with 7,800 spice farmers across 18,500 hectares and 210 villages.

Further, ITC, which is the number three player in the foods business in India, is also set to foray into the fruits, vegetables and seafood space this year. Puri said that this could be in the next six to twelve months' time. The first half of the next financial year would see some launches in this space, and ITC MasterChef could be the umbrella brand.

"We are looking at product categories across canned, frozen, dehydrated, puree etc. ITC MasterChef would surely have something that would span fruits, vegetables and seafood as well," Puri said. The products would be both for export and the domestic market.

ITC is eyeing the top spot in the foods business in the next couple of years. It currently has a turnover of Rs 7,100 crore in the foods business and is closing in on its rivals Parle and Britannia.

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