It has waited around 10 years and has had a patchy experience with one of its maiden launches in India - Tang. But, Phillip Morris seems to have put all that behind and is finally all set to storm the Indian processed foods market through Kraft Jacob Suchard (KJS) India, a wholly-owned arm of Phillip Morris India.
Philip Morris, which has had health freaks guzzling the granulated powder mix drink in the rest of the world, has warmed up for a big splash and is expected to bring in brands from its international portfolio such as Toblerone and Milka chocolates and products like salad oils, pastes, dips and spreads. Lovers of Kraft Cheese may, however, have to wait a while longer.
Sources say the company plans to import and begin cash and carry wholesale trading of a whole range of agro-based processed food products, including pasta, vegetable puree, condiments, powdered food and beverage products. Besides, there are also plans to bring in confectionery products such as chocolates and toffees, coffee, dairy products such as yoghurt, milk, sour cream, frozen and ready-to-eat and dry desserts, snack food, pizza, condiments and other food-based grocery products. Kraft has already tied up with a local company for a distribution arrangement. However, it will not retail on its own as current policy allows trading activities without any retail front for a foreign company.
KJS, which was registered in India way in 1996, has been working on the project for almost a decade now. Sources say the food major's biggest hit in the West, Kraft Cheese, is unlikely to be launched anytime soon. “The trouble is, Kraft Cheese has non-veg aspect to it and they are unlikely to change the formulation for a small market like India,” says a large Delhi-based importer of food products.
KJS had launched Tang several years back, but competition in the tough powdered soft drink market proved to be tall order for the global food major. Other Phillip Morris brands, including Tang are available in the upmarket stores through imports and grey channels. Despite years of presence, Tang couldn't draw volumes due to a lukewarm response from consumers.
The Indian arm tied up with Dabur for distribution a few years back, but even that didn't work and the plans for a proposed manufacturing facility were shelved. Importers says Kraft has taken way too long for the final entry. With the retail boom bringing in modern trade formats and the impending entry of global retail chains, analysts feel it's time Phillip Morris exposed Indians to its sprawling product line up.