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MTR Foods to pepper Tamil Nadu market with masala powders

Chennai, Oct 4 (IANS) Targeting a turnover of Rs.1,000 crore by 2015, Bangalore-based MTR Foods Pvt. Ltd. will pound the Tamil Nadu market with its sambar/rasam/kulambu powders, while augmenting its production infrastructure at an outlay of around Rs.125 crore, a top company official said.

"The Tamil Nadu masala powder market is estimated around Rs.712 crore. Around 93 percent of the market is shared between two brands, Aachi and Sakthi. Our product is made by pounding, which aids the retention of the flavour, aroma and texture of the original ingredients. Competitors use the grinding process," Sanjay Sharma, chief executive officer, MTR Foods, told reporters here Thursday.

The company will unleash a Rs.35 crore advertisement campaign, spread over three years, for its masala powders alone in Tamil Nadu.

"While grinding the ingredients for masala, the flavour gets lost. The pounded product retains the flavour and texture. Our masala powder is a bit coarse in texture, compared to the products of competitors," Sharma explained.

He said that MTR Fodos had developed specially designed equipment for pounding spices to make masala powders.

"Our process takes more time in coming out with the end product. Ours is a batch process, whereas the competition puts all ingredients in for grinding," Sharma said.

MTR Foods is also not interested in entering the market for non-vegetarian dishes, as there are a variety of masala powders to use for cooking chicken/fish/egg preparations.

"The non-vegetarian masala powder segment in Tamil Nadu accounts for around 35 percent of the total market size. We will continue to position ourselves as the pure vegetarian product company. We enjoy good brand equity with this positioning," Vikram Sabherwal, vice president-marketing, told IANS.

He said the company's sambar/rasam/kulambu powders are priced around 20 percent higher compared to the competition, owing to its premium positioning.

Tamil Nadu is the biggest masala powder market (Rs.712 crore) in South India while Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala account for around Rs.300 crore, Rs.150 crore and Rs.100 crore respectively, he said.

According to Sharma, the company has identified masala, mixes and snacks as the focus areas as these contribute around 70 percent of the company's Rs.350 crore turnover.

He said the company expected to close this calendar year with revenue of Rs.450 crore.

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