California-based food and beverages company Del Monte is considering foraying into Bangladesh and Sri Lanka through FieldFresh Foods, a 50:50 joint venture (JV) between Sunil Mittal-led Bharti Enterprises and Del Monte Pacific.
Besides India, the JV has rights to sell Del Monte branded products in the entire South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation region. Currently, FieldFresh Foods sells Del Monte branded products in India and Nepal directly to consumers. In a few other markets across Asia-Pacific, it sells though the business-to-business channel. “Over the next two quarters, we would have potential local partners in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka,” said Yogesh Bellani, chief operating officer.
In India, Del Monte is planning to launch sauces and condiments this week. “Initially, we would launch seven products in the Chinese category for direct consumer sales in 190g bottles priced between Rs 40 and Rs 45,” Bellani said. These products include sauces such as red chilli, green chilli, vinegar and schezwan. It would also launch products such as sandwich spreads and cheesy snack dips soon.
The Indian ketchup market, estimated at Rs 1,000 crore and in which Del Monte has strong presence, is dominated by Nestle’s Maggi, Hindustan Unilever’s Kissan and Heinz. As a brand, Del Monte started pushing products in India through the business-to-business route, primarily to bakeries, hotels and eateries. Currently, it sells about 50 million ketchup sachets a month, through the touch-points of its clients. Over the past few years, the company’s direct consumer sales have increased to about half of its revenues “B2B (business-to-business) is a good route to expand the brand’s presence in new markets. But direct consumer sales is a huge opportunity,” Bellani said.
For direct consumer sales, the company banks on modern retail (about 40 per cent of its revenue), rather than traditional general trade. “As far as our B2C (business-to-consumer) is concerned, we are present in 50-55 key cities across modern retail stores. We would cater to the top 25 per cent of the general trade outlets in the top 50 cities in India through the next few years,” he said.
The company also plans to expand its Italian range of pasta sauces, dips, salad dressing and spreads. Del Monte, which launched packaged fruit-based health snacks early this year, is also planning to introduce smaller packs of 25g and 40g.
In the Indian snack market, Del Monte takes on the likes of PepsiCo, ITC, Haldirams, Britannia and Parle. India’s health snack market accounts for only five per cent of the estimated Rs 10,000-crore snack food market.