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ITC plans launches in food business
Economic Times - 19 Sep 2007

Co May Set Up Composite Foods Manufacturing Unit In Bangalore With An Investment Of Rs 700 Cr

TOBACCO-TO-HOTELS & FMCG company ITC Ltd is poised to make aggressive inroads into the market with a slew of new launches in the branded and packaged foods business. The company is also contemplating the setting up a composite foods manufacturing facility in Bangalore shortly, entailing an investment of up to Rs 700 crore.

"We are consciously capitalising a lot of our efforts to expand our existing product categories in all four segments," ITC Foods divisional chief executive Ravi Naware said in an informal chat with mediapersons on the occasion of Sunfeast Open 2007. ITC has a presence in four segments - ready to eat foods, staples, confectionery and snack foods.

He, however, refused to name the segment that would witness new offerings over the next six months. "Like Sunfeast Sachin Fit Kit's multi-grain biscuits, we are also working on introducing higher variants in our existing range of products, in response to consumer choice and preference in urban centres," he added.

On the company's plans for a third manufacturing unit, Mr Naware said: "We plan to set up another manufacturing facility in Bangalore. However we are yet to decide whether it will be a foods unit only or a 'composite facility' manufacturing personal care products too." ITC Foods already has a unit in Haridwar (Uttaranchal) and is slated to commission its second unit at Pune in January 2008.

If the company decides to set up an integrated food manufacturing facility, total outlay on the project will be in excess of Rs 700 crore upwards as a similar plant in Haridwar entailed such an investment, Mr Naware said. Setting up of a Bingo producing snacks food unit will require an investment of a couple of hundred crore only.

ITC's decision to locate manufacturing facility in each region is largely prompted by packaging needs. This is also the reason why the company could be looking at a fourth unit in West Bengal. The organised market for biscuits is estimated at Rs 5,000 crore, of which ITC has a 11% value share.

Elaborating on future plans, Mr Naware said: "We are always open to opportunities for inorganic growth, but it must be an economically viable proposition. We do not want to pay a high price for the sake of inorganic growth." Incidentally, the company had acquired Mint-O brand from Candico.

ITC Ltd's foods division is also planning to increase the export component of its 'Kitchens of India' range of premium ready-to-eat Indian dishes. Kitchens of India's vegetable curries, chutney and pastes are available in the US and Canada. It has also started exporting Sunfeast and Aashirvaad atta in a small way.

Sachin unveils special edition of Sunfeast biscuit

Master blaster Sachin Tendulkar himself was at hand to launch a special edition of Sunfeast Sachin Fit Kit on the occasion of Sunfeast Open 2007. He is brand ambassador of Sunfeast, ITC's branded biscuits range. On a day when national selectors were meeting to choose a new India captain for Tests and he was widely tipped to be the top choice, Sachin shared the limelight and the stage with women's tennis star Sania Mirza. The latter, however, had to pull out of the event late on Monday night owing to injury.