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M&M to enter branded fruit business

Company entered into banana procurement, ripening, marketing in August this year on pilot basis

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& Mahindra (M&M) is planning to commercialise ripening, as backward integration to support the company’s planned launch early next month.

In August this year, the company had launched a banana procurement, ripening and marketing pilot in Delhi. Next month, it is set to introduce long, spotless bananas with increased shelf-life on a commercial basis and expand these operations to Mumbai early next year. The company has handled 150 tonnes of banana so far this year and plans to scale this up to 15,000 tonnes by next year.

For its farm tech prosperity scheme, M&M has engaged about 100 farmers, primarily in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh. It provides seed, fertilisers and herbicides, as well as guidance on improved farm practices to these farmers.

With about 15 per cent of the market share and an annual turnover of about Rs 60 crore, M&M has already set its footprints in the global grape market. The company plans to introduce fruit brand 'Saboro' ('taste' in Spanish) next month, for which it is in talks with large retail chains, including Reliance Fresh. It is also looking to tie up with others such as Godrej’s Nature Basket and Heritage Foods for distribution.

“We plan to introduce apples, grapes, bananas and other imported fruits under this brand for our Indian consumers. With this, we will be the only Indian corporate to offer such a large basket in the market. Saboro fruits would be available at select organised retail outlets and in general trade across key metro cities. To start with, we would be launching the best-quality Kinnaur (Himachal Pradesh) apples under this brand from November. As it is the second-largest consumer of F&V (fruits and vegetables) in India, we have selected Hyderabad as the launch city. With the strong organised retail presence this city has, we see this as a good opportunity for us to gauge the acceptance of a premium fresh fruit brand in the market,” said Ashok Sharma, chief executive (agri & allied business), M&M.

“We will eventually expand to other metros and tier-II cities in the coming months and extend this brand for our fruit export business to Europe, West Asia, Southeast Asia and Russia. Our plan, through the next three years, is to supply Saboro fruits across 200 outlets in India and record a turnover of Rs 300 crore for our fresh fruits business,” he added.

“They are in discussion with us. Nothing has been finalised yet. Generally, launching a new concept takes time for consumers to accept. If they (M&M) maintain consistency in quality and quantity, they could succeed, which takes some time,” said Mohit Khatter, chief executive, Godrej's Nature Basket.

M&M's agri business plans to provide end-to-end solutions for all farmers' needs, across the agricultural value chain. Realisations from its fruits business is expected to fetch a premium of five-10 per cent over the prevailing market price.

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