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McCain wants to stay local, grow local in India

By Ankush Chibber , 16-Apr-2012
Last updated the 16-Apr-2012 at 16:45 GMT

Aiming to garner a higher share of the Indian ready-to-eat (RTE), frozen foods markets, McCain Foods is further strengthening its product range to cater to Indian tastes and sensibilities.

The company recently launched the McCain RTE Idli Sambar Combo Pack, its take on the traditional Indian dish that consists of rice and lentils accompanied with a curry.

The product is the latest addition to McCain’s India-focused product line, which includes McCain Aloo Tikki and the Tandoori Veggie Nuggets in addition to French Fries, McCain Chilli Garlic Potato Bites, Veggie Burger and other western foods.

Ritu Mukherji, marketing manager at McCain Foods India, told FoodNavigator-Asia that localising the products is a key strategic initiative by McCain, which strongly believes in “drinking the local wine” in all its business practices.

“Localisation is one of the cornerstones of our India growth strategy. The local range of frozen food offerings are growing well and products with local tastes are gaining good acceptance,” Mukherji said.

Lifestyle changes fuelling RTE growth

She said that the Indian market has been on an upswing because of increased disposable income which has had a direct impact on lifestyle and food habits.

“In the last few years, consumers in India have gone through a dramatic transformation in lifestyle by moving from traditional spending on food and groceries to lifestyle and convenience food products,” she said.

Mukherji remarked that the relevance of McCain frozen foods is growing with consumers appreciating the benefit of being able to create a freshly made hot snack, in addition to the convenience of stocking them in the freezer for later use.

“Having said that, frozen foods are still a new category for Indian consumers and they are getting familiar with it,” she added.

Quick service eateries also contributing to growth

According to Mukherji, quick service restaurants have equally contributed to the growth of frozen foods where standardization and consistent quality are important factors for success.

“Pre-packaged frozen foods reduce high overall food costs, as many RTE foods actually deliver better value for money than snacks prepared from scratch, when you consider the total costs of material, labour, energy, and wastages,” she said.

Mukherji said the company has also recently expanded production to add to the first McCain plant back in Gujarat in 2007, which could process 40,000 tonnes of potatoes annually.

“In mid 2011, we expanded the production capacity of the plant by 40%. By doing this, we not only aims to fill the current gap in the market but also develop and diversify its product portfolio localized for the Indian market,” she said. 

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