We are hoping to touch Rs 1,000 crore revenue this year: Sunay Bhasin, MTR Foods

Sunay Bhasin, Chief Marketing Officer, MTR Foods, on their recently-launched products, seed funding initiatives and strategies to focus on local market demands

by Neethu Mohan
Published - Jul 18, 2019 8:23 AM Updated: Jul 18, 2019 8:23 AM
bhasin

Bangalore-based packaged food products company, MTR Foods Pvt Ltd has set up Rs 50 crore seed fund to invest in start-ups that are engaged in food processing. The company will have a stake ranging between 26 -49 percent in the start-ups. Start-ups that become part of the MTR Seed Fund will have access to MTR Foods research and development team.

MTR, with a strategy to focus on Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, has recently launched a separate business unit in these states.

In conversation with exchange4media, Sunay Bhasin, Chief Marketing Officer, MTR Foods, spoke about their recently launched products, seed funding initiatives and strategies followed by MTR Foods to focus on local market demands.

 

Excerpts:

You have recently launched few products in the AP/TG market. What are your hopes and How do you asses the performance so far?

Telangana and Andhra Pradesh together contribute the second highest to MTR’s sales from India and this year we have put together a strategy to focus on the southern states both in terms of launch of new products as well as investments and strategic initiatives. At MTR we are always studying consumer needs and both the products launched recently are answers to the need-gap identified in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. The Masala Karam launched is a versatile Masala that is used as a part of everyday traditional Telugu cuisine. Along with that we also launched quick-to-cook Seviyan Upma which is a popular breakfast across AP and India as well. We have just launched these two products and the initial consumer response is encouraging.

MTR Foods has set up Rs 50 crore seed fund to invest in startups. Can you tell us more about this and what is the criteria MTR is following to make the investments?

MTR Foods Pvt Ltd launched the seed fund in 2017 with the objective to mentor and invest in food-related start-ups in India over the next two years. The company will invest and have a stake ranging between 26 percent and 49 percent in the start-ups. Start-ups that become part of the MTR Seed Fund will have access to MTR Foods research and development team, as well as to the company’s in-house group of chefs or common services such as branding, legal assistance, treasury and accounting services.

Primarily focusing on food tech-related start-ups, last year MTR Foods invested in early stage start-up FirmRoots Pvt. Ltd., mainly for the latter’s children-focused packaged food brand Timios – a solution towards age-appropriate nutrition.

Which is the biggest Indian market for MTR and how are you planning to dominate the other pockets?

We hail from Bangalore and most of our products are focused on local South Indian cuisine. Karnataka has always been the biggest market for MTR and this year our plan is to deepen our focus on this state as well as expand our footprint in the other southern states. We are planning on deepening our distribution foothold and drive the region with hyper-local products. Indian cuisine is very versatile and at MTR our aim is to remain India’s leading packaged foods maker and for that we try to cater to all age groups from the millennials to homemakers across markets. We are present across meal occasions from breakfast, lunch and dinner to snacks, desserts, accompaniments and beverages and our categories range from Spices and Masalas, Breakfast and Dessert Mixes, Ready to Eat Curries and Desserts, Ready to Drink Cans and 3-minute breakfast reaching out to our specific target audiences.

What are the strategies followed by MTR Foods to focus on local market demand?

MTR has always been strong on innovation, we have been known for being the inventors of hyper local products that now grace the tables of Indians across the country. Over the years, we have changed the nature of innovation to reflect the current consumers’ tastes coupled with the need of the hour convenient, quick and authentic Indian food. Our constant endeavour is to bring Indian food back in the consumers’ minds and for that we are continuously researching different cuisines and keeping a repository of various dishes from cuisines across different regions in India.

At MTR Foods’ Center of Excellence, we have conducted extensive cuisines studies that have resulted into various innovative products like the recently launched Masala Karam. Launched specifically for Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Masala Karam has been co-created with Telugu mothers, after gathering consumer insights from thousands of households.

Can you elaborate on your marketing and business plans for this year?

This year we are focusing on our core categories of masalas, breakfast mixes, desserts and vermicelli, launching locally relevant products with a focus on innovation. Geographically we would be deep diving into the southern states, expanding our distribution and investing in innovating hyper-local products in convenient easy-to-use formats.

What are the challenges faced by the Ready-to-Cook Food market and what will be the growth rate of packaged food sales in India in the next 5 years?

There are two critical challenges faced by the RTE/RTC category. The foremost challenge is low penetration. While metros and urban cities have seen a faster rate of adoption due to time-constraints in their daily lives, the majority of the country still prefers home-made food. Another challenge is perceived taste due to how personally differentiated food is in this country with tastes changing in every household, a one-stop solution like a RTE product does not appeal to most. While efforts are being made to counteract these challenges, the industry is still growing at a slow pace.

What are your revenue expectations for this fiscal?

We are hoping to touch Rs 1,000 crore revenue this year as it has consistently been growing at 14 per cent CAGR for the past five years.

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