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ITC plans grand spread for food business

New Delhi, March 29: Cigarettes-to-hotel major ITC Limited is set to expand its food business by acquiring new brands across various segments. It has already shown an interest in buying out the state-owned Mafco (Maharashtra Agro & Fruit Processing Corporation), which is being disinvested.

ITC’s food business, which has already made a beginning with its Aashirwad brand of packaged atta, is set to roll out Aashirwad salt nationally by mid-June. The salt brand was recently launched in some parts of north India. ITC’s staple food division will introduce products like basmati and non basmati rice, suji, maida over a course of time, said Ravi Naware, CEO of ITC Foods.

Naware said: “We are looking for acquisition in all the food segments we are present in and also plan to get into new segments like dairy-based products and frozen vegetables.”

Naware was cagey about giving out any sales figures and merely said the foods division plans to mop up Rs 500 crore in five years’ time. The ‘Kitchens of India’ brand will bring in 10 per cent of this amount, he said. The range offers dishes like 'Dal Bukhara', 'Chicken Chettinad' and 'Khubani Ka Meetha' from ITC's own restaurants like Dal Bukhara, Dakshin and Dum Pukht.

The foods division today went beyond restaurant menus and started a separate sub-brand under Kitchens of India called Gharana by launching three products — Paneer Darbari, Paneer Mushroom Kofta, and Chicken Darbari.

Placed in the same premium category as Kitchens of India, the price for a single pack (between 400-450 gms) is priced at Rs 150 each for the first two packed vegetarian dishes and Rs 200 for the chicken dish.

“ITC is outsourcing all manufacturing for its food products to reduce the financial burden. We will continue to do so until there is sufficient volume in that particular category,” Naware said. However, all preparations are made under ITC’s strict supervision, Naware added.

ITC Limited clocked a turnover of Rs 9,840 crore in the last financial year.

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