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MTR Foods: Ready to roll

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MTR Foods, a wholly owned subsidiary of Norwegian food company Orkla Brands, and one of the top five processed foods manufacturers in India, is expanding its portfolio by foraying into ready-to-cook (RTC) range. It has announced the launch of the brand of meal mixes, which had a limited presence in the markets of the west till now, on a national scale.

MTR acquired Pune-based Rasoi Magic last year.

Rasoi Magic is aimed at housewives who do not want to spend hours in the kitchen but want to serve freshly cooked food to their families and also offer variety. “Consumers prefer the powder format to paste. Rasoi Magic meal mixes are in a powder format and the consumer only has to add fresh ingredients such as vegetables, paneer, milk etc,” says Vikran Sabherwal, vice-president, marketing, MTR Foods. The Rasoi Magic range consists of 21 regular dishes under Rasoi Magic and nine that are devoid of onion and garlic and are called No Onion No Garlic. These packs serve four and are priced between Rs 36 and Rs 42.

The meal mixes category in India stands at Rs 60 crore, and is growing at 40 per cent. The more well-established and aggressive brands in the category are Knorr and Parampara. “Meal mixes, unlike ready-to-eat (RTE), gives the consumer the joy and flexibility to make the final dish,” believes Sanjay Sharma, chief executive officer, MTR Foods.

The overall market for RTE foods — of which is a part — is primarily dominated by home-grown brands. Some of the key players here are Kitchens of India (ITC), Haldiram, Al Kabeer, and Kohinoor. Rising incomes, increasing exposure, greater experimentation and more emphasis on convenience, are some of the factors contributing to the growth of the RTE/RTC market in the country. Most of the players in this category have well-established and extensive retail distribution networks, which allow them to roll out the new product range quickly.

Primarily, the offerings in the category are skewed towards Indian food and vegetarian meals such as rajmah, dal makhni, samosas, paranthas, aloo tikki etc. “The regional cuisine and non-vegetarian cuisine markets are relatively under-serviced with a concentration on the vegetarian north Indian meals. Among the non-Indian products, fries, a variety of nuggets, spring rolls, burger patties and potato-based options have heavy demand,” notes an observer.

MTR is looking to build both the category and brand by advertising across TV and print nationally. It is also engaging customers through demonstrations across key modern trade and general outlets. The company will spend about 16 per cent of sales on marketing.

Based in Bangalore, MTR has a considerable presence in the spices segment as well. At 46.5 per cent, the largest value share in its overall sales is generated by the RTE segment, according to a recent Nielsen report. The second position is held by breakfast mixes with 31.3 per cent. The company says it is aiming for a three-fold jump in its revenues to Rs 1,000 crore in the next three years. MTR reported sales of Rs 350 crore for the financial year 2011-12.

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