Diversified conglomerate ITC Ltd. has identified a new market opportunity that may prove to be crucial for its future growth in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) business - a segment that it has been aggressively pursuing for the past decade. After championing the branded kitchen commodities market the Kolkata-headquartered behemoth is planning to repeat its success through another agri-commodity.
ITC, which built its FMCG business on the back of its success in branded agri-commodity - riding on its Aashirvaad brand of packaged wheat flours - has placed its next bet on millets. According to the company, the nutritious food grain has the potential to open up Rs 4 lakh crore market opportunity.
“Apart from being climate resilient, millets use 70 per cent less water than other staples (rice), grow in half the time as other crops (wheat), and use 40 per cent less energy to process (than wheat). We have been studying the benefits of millets for quite some time now and how it can solve the problem of food safety. ITC is actively making ‘ITC Mission Millets’ a priority to serve national priority utilising our enterprise strengths in agriculture as well as the synergy of our businesses in foods and hospitality,” Sanjiv Puri, Chairman & Managing Director, ITC said while announcing the initiative.
According to Puri, millets have a potential to be used in 80 per cent of the Rs 500,000 crore FMCG market that ITC plays in. Terming it as a “future category” for growth, he said the company is planning to use millets in multiple product categories and across ITC’s diversified businesses like hotels and agri-commodities businesses apart from packaged foods.
A number of millet-based products have already been introduced under the Aashirvaad Nature Superfoods brand including ragi flour, gluten free atta, multi-millet mix and Aashirvaad Soul Creations, as part of ITC’s food tech initiative that offers millet-based khichdi.
“ITC is further developing a comprehensive millets-based portfolio under popular brand names and in familiar formats to enable easier adoption. Some of the products that will be launched over time include Millet based noodles and millet pasta under YiPPee! brand, Ragi vermicelli, multi millet dosa mix, muti millet rava idli mix under Aaashirvaad brand, 100 per cent multi millet-based cookies under Sunfeast, millet choco-sticks confectionary under Candyman Fantastik and millet-based snacks under Bingo! to help introduce millets in the everyday routine of consumers and making it more palatable,” the company said.
ITC Agri Business is currently sourcing required millets (Sorghum, Pearl Millet, Ragi etc.) from states like Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. As a part of developing millet value chains, the agri business division has implemented two PPP (public private partnership) projects in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh in partnership with Indian Institute of Millets Research (IIMR), Hyderabad and Government of Andhra Pradesh respectively. “In these projects, improved varieties and crop cultivation practices are disseminated through Crop Demonstrations, trainings were organized for capacity building of farmers on millet cultivation, post-harvest management, marketing; and market linkages were provided to catchment farmers”, it said in a statement.
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