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Slew of domestic launches planned - ITC Foods to tickle overseas palates
The Hindu Business Line - 02 Oct 2003

Sudha Menon

ITC Foods, ITC Ltd’s venture into the highly competitive ready-meals business, is all set to make aggressive inroads into the market with a slew of launches planned for both its premium brand, Kitchens of India, and the recently launched mid-segment brand Aashirvaad.

Besides aiming for a larger portion of the Rs 60-80-crore annual domestic market, the company is also making a bid for hungry palates in the high-end product segment.

"We are currently in discussions with a number of large retail stores, gourmet shops, delis and stores specialising in ethnic foods from different countries," the Regional Chief Executive (Foods Division), Mr. Ravi Naware, told Business Line.

While the company is currently exporting small consignments of products under the Kitchens of India brand, Mr. Naware said the export effort would only take off in an organised manner in 8-9 months from now.

The company is also simultaneously working on rapidly increasing its presence in the market both by rolling out its products nationally and adding to its larder of products.

The basket of offerings under its Aashirvaad label will expand significantly with the company now planning to enter the market with regional snack items such as pohe and upma, among other things, to be sold at the regional level in addition to popular items such as pav bhaji and chana masala, which will debut this month (October). "By the end of this fiscal we will have 12-14 products under Aashirvaad which we will roll out into the top 20 cities across the country," Mr. Naware said.

The company is also looking at possibilities such as exotic ethnic jams, pickles and preserves, he said.

Meanwhile, the company is now making a pitch for the lucrative Diwali gift business where it is positioning its premium Kitchens of India brand as a novel gift idea. It has now appointed individual entrepreneurs working in the gifts business to promote the brand as a delicious new alternative to the monotony of boondi, ladoos and mithai, Mr. Naware said.

Working on commissions on the orders they grab, these entrepreneurs have already secured orders of approximately one lakh-plus cans almost month before Diwali, largely from corporates who are large annual buyers.