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INTERVIEW

“Seasoning market is considered recession-proof”
Monday, 21 January, 2019, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Ajinomoto Group is based out of Japan and is a global manufacturer of quality seasonings, processed food and beverages. It was founded in 1909 and is now operating in 27 countries and regions. About two-and-a-half years ago, Ajinomoto Co., Inc. and Toyo Suisan Kaisha, Ltd signed a joint venture agreement to establish instant noodle business company in India. The new company Maruchan Ajinomoto India Pvt. Ltd is strengthening its India forays with Toyo Suisan supporting product development/production, and Ajinomoto Co., Inc. handling marketing (product planning/sales). Govinda Biswas, manager-marketing, Ajinomoto India Pvt. Ltd, in an email interaction with Anurag More, highlighted the food seasoning market in India and his company’s road ahead. Excerpts:

How big is the food seasoning business in India? At what rate is it growing?
Spices will emerge as a $18 billion industry by 2020. Of the $18 billion spices market by 2020, the share of India will be around $5 billion. The Indian pure packaged and blended spices market has grown with a CAGR of more than 8 per cent in the forecast period FY 2018-19 to FY 2022-23. The period has witnessed the growth of the replacement spices market and the consumers will be shifting from loose packing to packaged spices to avoid adulteration.

The market has been consistent in the last five years and is expected to continue growing in the next few years. Spices manufacture comprises the production of packaged, blended, and spices mix, etc. The major causes of the market's growth are increased disposable income, India having the largest foodie population in the world, increased consumption of packaged foods, health-conscious consumers etc.

How much is your share in the Indian market?
The total market size for MSG in India is 8,850 MT. Ninety per cent of the market consists of unorganised MSG manufacturers and remaining 10 per cent consists of organised players. Ajinomoto India Pvt. Ltd enjoys a healthy market share among the organised players.

How important is Indian market for Ajinomoto?
Indian market is very important for Ajinomoto India because of increased disposable income, having the largest foodie population in the world and also due to increased consumption of packaged foods.

What is the outlook for the market?
The seasoning market is considered to be recession-proof market as consumers prefer in-house prepared food during unstable economic conditions. Seasoning is an integral part of cuisine as it is accountable to add aroma and taste to the food. Seasoning is primarily used in snacks to enhance the flavour of food. The seasoning market is growing tremendously due to the rising number of consumers considering seasoning to augment their meals with better tastes. Therefore there is a tremendous growth opportunity for the seasonings market in India.

Brief us about the expansion plans of the company. How much will you be investing?
Ajinomoto India Pvt. Ltd has rapid expansion plan in India. Currently, we are selling Aji-no-moto (MSG) for food service sector and Ajitide (I+G) for industrial food manufacturing purpose across India. We are selling Aji-no-moto (MSG) and Hapima range of products for retail consumer mainly in Tamil Nadu market through our 11 numbers depot and 108 numbers distributor channel. Now we have entered into Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh markets through distributor network for our Aji-no-moto (MSG) and Hapima range of retail products. Ajinomoto Co., Inc. (Ajinomoto Co.) has also entered into a 51:49 joint venture with Toyo Suisan Kaisha, Ltd (Toyo Suisan) and launched A&M noodle brand in India in the year December 2016. Under A&M brand we are currently selling - tasty masala and veggie masala variants to the consumer.

The company has also entered into instant powder beverage category with the launch of the brand Blendy in the year September 2017. Under the Blendy brand we are currently selling 3in1-masala chai and coffee product which mainly caters to the modern trade channel. We see India as a high potential country and our motives and future plans are serious. We already have made investments on the lines of Rs 127 crore when we entered the noodle-making market with our joint venture partnership with Japanese noodle maker Toyo Suisan Kaisha in 2016.

Any plans to launch new products?
There are couple of exciting new products range we have worked out as per the local consumer need and taste preference, which we will be launching in the near future as per our future business strategy.

What kind of research and development goes in your products?
We are a research-driven company and we always give top most priority to our research and development process. As a research-driven company, we frequently conduct various types of consumer research in order to understand the pulse and the local need of the consumer. Based on those findings of the research, we strategise our new product plan and also our existing quality improvement plan. As a Japanese company we also give immense importance to maintain the high quality standard of our products. So, there is an extensive amount of research and development that goes in your products.
 
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