Brand rejig: Consumer insight gets Sumeru back to the kitchen

Amrita Nair Ghaswalla Mumbai | Updated on October 15, 2018 Published on October 15, 2018

Sumeru, the forzen food brand from Innovative Foods Limited, is listening to the consumer.

“Consumers have clearly told us they want more interesting products, rather than the regular ones. We have positioned ourselves accordingly and recast ourselves,” said Mithun Appaiah, CEO, Innovative Foods Ltd.

The brand that offers a wide variety of frozen ready-to-cook vegetarian and non-vegetarian products, has not only identified the consumers’ shift in taste but also is cooking up a storm.

Innovation is the bedrock of our growth, says the CEO, with the last few months witnessing disruptive and differentiated launches.

Earlier in the year, the company launched French fries with a flavouring of chicken, which was touted as the first of its kind in the industry.

Next on the plate was parathas. The regular parathas may all look similar, says Appaiah, but therein lies the difference. From the original jeera, Malabar, onion, aloo and flaky paratha, the company ventured into methi, turmeric, beetroot, ajwain and multi-grain paratha.

“Paratha is not an indulgence. It is a regular consumption item now in many parts of the country, and not just in the North. We are piloting with our brand,” says Appaiah.

Fries and rolls

The company has also got into rolls, with its chicken, egg roll and paneer roll. “The whole positioning is on snacking occasions. Here, too, we listened to the customer, who asked for a healthy snack. Since the category size is large and is unorganised, we decided to move in,” he says.

Consumer insight has driven a slew of new brands at the firm. The company conducted research across eight cities, both qualitative and quantitative. In the case of quick service restaurants (QSRs), the demand for innovative French fries was met with alacrity.

“We disrupted the fries market when we came up with peri peri, and chilli and garlic as a flavour for QSRs, while our competitors were only doing potato wedges and simple fries. We introduced tartar sauce and mayo as a dip, all of which were born from a simple insight,” says the CEO.

The insight that the consumers are seeking newer experiences got the company to create a chef’s panel in Kochi, where it has a plant and an R&D centre. At the plant, a set of chefs go through several products, which are then improvised at the R&D centre, and then move to the consumer panel in Bengaluru.

Around 4-5 chefs help evaluate each product at the plant, says Appaiah. The company roped in Alfred Prasad, the youngest Indian chef to have bagged a Michelin star in 2002. Alfred works at a restaurant called Tamarind in London, which curates the menu at the Lord’s cricket stadium, among others.

Published on October 15, 2018
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