To strengthen Farmland brand, ITC to increase sourcing of fruits and veggies

Shobha Roy Kolkata | Updated on June 21, 2020

S Sivakumar, Group Head – ITC Agri and IT Business

Diversified conglomerate ITC Ltd will increase sourcing of fruits and vegetables to strengthen its ‘Farmland’ brand to cater to the emerging consumer demand for safe and nutritious food in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to S Sivakumar, Group Head – ITC Agri and IT Business, plans are afoot to create more export-oriented fruits and vegetables clusters for both fresh and frozen foods in the category.

“Horticulture will be one of the key areas of focus, moving forward. We have been procuring fresh fruits directly from farmers for our B Natural brand of juices. We also procure fresh vegetables for our Farmland brand. We will be increasingly focussing on scaling up procurement of fresh fruits and vegetables. The consumer franchise for ITC Master Chef, Frozen Snacks, is also likely to go up due to the need for convenience in cooking food,” said Sivakumar during a select e-interaction with the media on Friday.

Post-Covid-19, there has been a shift in consumers’ focus towards food safety and hygiene, leading to higher demand for packaged fresh as well as frozen fruits and vegetables from reputed brands. This will give a fillip to ITC’s Farmland brand of fresh as well as processed fruits and vegetables, leading to higher procurement of agri produce such as tomato, potato and onion, among others.

The recent reforms announced by the government in agricultural marketing and amendments to the Essential Commodities Act will help facilitate increased corporate engagement in agriculture. It will also help farmers garner higher incomes by getting linked to sustainable value chains and aligning their produce to market demand.

Encouraged by the current set of reforms, ITC is looking to further ramp up procurement of wheat and other grains through its direct procurement models.

“Earlier, there was a sword hanging in the form of Essential Commodities Act; now with that gone, the risks are eliminated. So, it is a clearer path for us to pursue our activities,” he said.

ITC will focus on promoting multi-crops such as paddy and nutri-cereals, among others, to help further enhance farmer incomes.

“There is an increase in demand for the export of rice to countries such as Africa,” he said.

Immunity boosters

ITC is looking to come up with immunity boosting products. The company has been running a pilot project to grow medicinal and aromatic plants on around 100 acres in Madhya Pradesh engaging close to 10,000 farmers.

The pilot will help farmers diversify into new crops with less water consumption and higher returns. Some of the extracts can be used to make specific ingredients and formulations focussed on the B2B export market.

Published on June 22, 2020

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