With consumption of mustard oil in India growing at 20 per cent a year, mustard oil processing units want a 'Mustard Oil Development Board' for the integrated development of the mustard oil industry in the country, with the focus on higher productivity and value addition.
The industry believes that mustard oil has the potential to reduce edible oil imports, if mustard is declared a national crop by the Indian government, on the lines of what the Malaysian government has done for palm oil.
Mustard oil processing is an unorganised business, with only 20 per cent of the 7,000-9,000 enterprises in the organised or branded segment. They have a total installed capacity of 23 lakh tonnes per annum.
Puri Oil Mills Ltd's managing director, Vivek Puri, told Business Standard, "Currently, India imports 50 per cent of its edible oil requirements to meet domestic demand. Indian mustard oil has the potential to reduce imports of edible oil and can save valuable foreign exchange. What palm oil is for Malaysia, olive oil for Italy and soya oil for America, mustard oil can be for India. There is a need to have a vision and a plan for this industry. We request the Central government to establish a 'Mustard Oil Development Board' for the integrated development of the mustard oil industry in the country, with focus on higher productivity and value addition."
Puri Oil Mills makes the 'P Mark' brand of mustard oil, which is the market leader across the northern region and has a sizable presence in eastern India. The company has crushing capacity of 60,000 tonnes per annum, with factories in Moga (Punjab), Damtal (Himachal Pradesh) and Bahadurgarh (Haryana).
Devi Prasad Khandelia, managing director, Khandelia Oil & General Mills (P) Ltd, said, "Mustard oil is fast becoming a popular edible oil on account of its high highly nutritive value and medicinal benefits. So, there is a need for the government to focus on this sector through efforts to increase the acreage under mustard, and also direct agricultural universities to develop high-yielding varieties. This can be done by creating a Board for Mustard or something similar." The company markets its oil under the brand name 'Mashal,' and has plants in Chandigarh and Rajasthan.
A senior official in Haryana's agricultural marketing department, which sells the 'Hafed' brand of mustard oil, said that the Centre can help strengthen the Indian mustard oil industry by ensuring stable productivity, which is essential for the stability of mustard seed prices.
Mustard oil is traditionally known as the poor man's oil, but mustard processing units are now spending significant amounts on marketing and branding, in order to increase acceptability among consumers.
"The mustard oil industry is largely unorganised in India, but branded mustard oil manufacturers have still managed to carve out a niche for themselves. We have signed on a brand ambassador, actor Boman Irani, probably for the first time in the mustard oil industry, to reach out to the youth of the country and in order to have a pan-India presence," said Puri.
Similarly, the 'Mashal' brand tied up with Punjabi Music Awards in the recent past in an effort at brand-building, while Hari Vegetable Products (P) Ltd, manufacturer of the 'Engine' brand of mustard oil, launched TV commercials last year.
India's consumption of edible oil rose to around 17.5 million metric tons (mmt) in 2012-13, from 11.6 mmt in 2003-04.