HUL to spice up masala segment

Priyanka Pani Mumbai | Updated on January 24, 2018


To launch new range of eight masala variants under the Knorr brand

Consumer goods major Hindustan Unilever (HUL) is all set to enter the spices and seasoning mixes segment under the Knorr brand. The ₹40,000-crore segment is currently dominated by domestic companies, of which many are regional and local players.

The company is already testing the products in a few markets and will make a formal launch soon with a range of eight variants as Knorr Chef’s Masalas across India. This range will also come in a special packaging that will help in convenient storage.

Abhiroop C, General Manager (Packaged Foods), HUL, told BusinessLine that “Knorr is the biggest brand of Unilever and is globally strong in cooking products like seasonings. Our strong equity in soups and noodles in India, sound understanding of the Indian consumer, global expertise in R&D technology and a robust mix make us believe that we will be able to address the specific consumer needs in this segment.”

He added that spices are an integral part of Indian cuisine. The company has also used its global expertise to create the new range of superior blended spices in a ‘zip lock’ packaging to help retain the colour and characteristic flavours of the masalas for the entire usage duration. It also ensures convenient storage. Unilever, the Anglo-Dutch parent of HUL, sells seasonings and spices globally in 87 countries. According to a report by Technopak, about 15 per cent of the Indian spices market is branded with veteran players such as MDH, Everest, Eastern, Catch and Ruchi among the leaders. Most of these players started with serving the local market and are now national level brands.

Meanwhile, the spices market is hotting up with new entrants. Nestle entered the market two years ago with its masala mix under the Maggi brand. Kerala-based Keya, Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali, and Mother’s Recipe are also targeting the young consumers with their ready-to-assemble spice mixes and convenient packaging, including single-use sachets.

Recently, Tata Chemicals Ltd, maker of branded salt and pulses, announced its entry into the spices business under a newly created umbrella brand— Tata Sampann. Currently, it has products such as I-Shakti besan (gram flour) and pulses.

Over the past few years, HUL has been trying to replicate the strategy of its parent company, which is lately trying to focus on the food business.

After steadily shedding food brands over the past few years, Unilever’s CEO Paul Polman, had said during a press conference in 2014, that, “Food remains a highly cash-generative business, and as our portfolio increasingly focuses on our big global brands and a clear way forward for spreads, it is increasingly becoming ready to grow again.”

Published on February 03, 2016

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