Eastern charts new spice route with new plant

Eastern charts new spice route with new plant
Kochi-based Rs 700-crore food and spice giant Eastern has envisioned a robust target of being in every household of the national market by 2025, aiming to grow its operations in the next five years itself.

The company — a major in straight powders, masalas, rice powders, speciality mixes, ready-to-cook products, ethnic food products, pickles and snacks — plans to take its total annual spice production tonnage to one lakh tonnes by 2020, from the current 50,000 tonnes.

“We are the largest producer of processed spices (based on tonnage) in the country, with 50,000 tonnes of different mixes and masalas produced at our eight units in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Ras al Khaima in the UAE. We are bullish on spices, and want to expand to other states as well. We will be present in Gujarat and Punjab by 2020,” Eastern Managing Director Firoz Meeran told Deccan Herald.

Eastern also plans to increase its number of SKUs (stock keeping units) from the current 800 products to 1,200, over the next ten years.

“We are not just in the spice business, but also in the taste business. We develop specific blends of spices for specific markets, based on particular tastes. Every house in India produces its own spices, and we believe that a spice must bridge an emotional connect and relate to the palate of people,” Meeran said.

While the organised spice segment accounts for only 25 per cent of the total market, the company expects that the evolution of family lifestyles will open new doors for innovative products. “In the next 5-10 years, there will be a huge conversion from homeground spices to branded spices, which will be pushed by factors like availability, convenience and affordability. We are looking at all retail channels to enhance our business,” he said.

Advantage Karnataka
Eastern has seen Karnataka emerge as a key market driving growth for the company, whose business in the State grew by 63 per cent in the first quarter of 2015. Several products of Eastern’s authentic Karnataka range have been well-received, Meeran claimed.

“We want to be close to the market. We have recently acquired land in Belagavi to open our ninth factory for the regional market. In three months from now, we will be setting up a packaging facility here, followed by a grinding unit in 2017. A full-fledged factory (for a new range of products) will take shape in 2018, hiring a workforce of 200,” he said, adding that the plan carries an investment of around Rs 15 crore.

Eastern has a supplier base of over two lakh farmers, around the country, to source ingredients. The company is also a major spice exporter to the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and the Middle East.

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