Mr. Ravi Naware
Chief Executive (Foods Division), ITC Ltd.
Good morning ladies and gentlemen, thank you Dharen, I am going to shift gears and I am going to get into something completely different, no technology, no micro economics. This is something that is actually close to my heart. I am going to talk about a food brand that we are trying to take global out of india. In fact when we look at whats been happening over the last decade or more than that in india is the number of foreigners who are visiting india and experiencing india is increasing every year. The reasons could be found in the various talks that we have been listening to in the morning and some others. They experience and they soak in Indian history, Indian --, Indian culture but at the same time they also begin to experience Indian food and believe me there is hardly any other country in the whole world where you have such fantastic variety of mouth watering food available across the regions, every kind of food Is eaten in india. And as they begin to develop a liking for this kind of a tasty masala food the go back and they hanker for it . simultaneously a lot of Indians have begun traveling abroad and they carry india with them, they carry the culture, they carry the habits, they carry the food as well and as a result there is an opportunity opening up to in fact introduce Indian food worldwide and making it popular and actually building possibly a global brand or two out of this. complimentary to this there are a couple of other trends in food consumption which are emerging in the world. I think all over the world people are becoming more and more conscious about their health, about well being actually more than health. And they are all saying that If you want to live right you must eat right. They are getting very aware of the nutrition levels on the packs of foods that they buy because they want to know what kind of nutrition values does this pack of food carry for me, will it harm me, will it help me, will it benefit me and as a result red meat, cholesterol, transfats, all kinds of issues are popping up and people are actually beginning to choose the kind of food they want to consume on a daily basis. India actually offers them a great choice, the whole movement towards vegetarian is there. once again I will say this there is no other country in the world where if you are a vegetarian the kind of variety, the kind of delectable food options that you get in india nowhere else in world do you get that. and in fact people are increasingly voting for this and it is all combined with the overall india experience also. There is yoga,there is meditation, there is ayurveda and there is vegetarianism. In fact we thought that this is a great opportunity that is there to be exploited, and we have attempted over the last 3-4 years to create a brand, to take india cuisine, indian food, Indian recipes to the world. we are just started and it’s a long way from any kind of recognition that we have achieved yet. But I would just like to talk to you about the steps that we have taken in attempting to do so. the brand that we have attempted to take abroad is called the kitchens of india. Now for any reputation, any kind of attraction that you want to build for food must be based on some kind of authenticity, some kind of genuineness , some kind of acceptance by ---and ----before that food can be sold as something wonderful. Some 30 years ago when ITC got into the hotel business one of the key strategy that was thought about was that can ITC hotel chain be well known and be established as the very best serving Indian food and as a result we have not only established a series of restaurants, bukaro, Dakshin etc but behind that to support that effort is the institution of master chefs. Now masterchefs is an institution wherein people are inducted into this, they are actually required to do research into the historical methods of cooking, the genuine way in which food was cooked maybe 100-200 years ago. For example ----, if the style of -----was developed among the nawabs and in the kitchens a couple of 100 years near Lucknow. then how did it happen, why was this particular style of cooking developed, what is the speciality, what kind of pots and pans and utensils did they use, what kind of fire did they use,. why is that food distinctive form others, what are the ingredients and so on and so forth. The masterchef actually goes into all this and thorugh pratice, through learning this and being able to contemporise it to suit todays style and todays consumers does he acquire the title of becoming a master chef. Fortunately over the last 30-40 years we have been able to create a group of masterchefs who are able to stand behind these authentic recipes and the food that they prepare and serve In the restaurant has been acclaimed by -------right across, in factsome of our restaurants like bukhara have been named as the best Indian restaurant in the world. so that really gave us the confidence that we have a good product with us, we know that what we are going to take abroad under the kitchens of india brand is really authentic good food. So with this we decided to launch the brand abroad but how does one introduce such a brand to the world particularly even though I said that a lot of foreigners are visiting india and Indians are travelling abroad it is still a very tiny small number. So we decided to participate in the biggest food show that takes place every two years in Germany called Anuga. But instead of participating through a small stall in the india pavilion we said we will make an entry into the exotic food section. It’s a huge food fair, equal to something like there are 15-16 football fields, that’s the kind of spread. And in that there is a large section for exotic food so we entered that particular section and we deliberately selected. We didn’t have a single customer as yet, we selected a key location and set up a large booth. we created packaging and labeling specially for that occasion , multilingual brochures , multilingual packaging, we hired staff who could speak a variety of languages because people from world over come there. we wanted to create an impression that this brand is supported by a very serious effort behind it. not only good products but also the ability to service consumers across the world effectively. And in fact we were lucky this kind of preparation helped us and some good customers walked into our shop. These are customers, these are large distributors of food products in countries in Europe, north America, Latin America and so on and they were impressed by the kind of preparation that we are willing to put behind this. and through negotiating with them we were able to actually appoint and partner with agents in Us, Canada, mexico, UK, Germany, Switzerland, several places where today we are able to sell our product through them. why do we need such an agent or distributor? There are several Indian food manufacturers who are selling their product in these very countries through a variety of other shops but we said that If we want to make Kitchens of india into a global brand then we must present the brand to the main stream customer and not to the ethnic population or the Indian diaspora which lives there. the mainstream consumer actually shops only in the big retail chains and these distributors that I talked about have direct access and relationship with the retail chains. Through them today we are able to present our product in these retail chains in special vegetarian sections at a premium price because very often as we all know price also gives a signal of the quality and positioning of the product in the consumers mind.we decided that we are not going to export the product from india, we would like to create a brand in the consumers mind in US, Canada, Europe etc as something that is precious , premium, authentic Indian food coming from india because we have lot of competition where so called Indian food products are produced in UK and other parts of the world and sold as genuine Indian products and we wanted to overcome that. in fact apart form picking up the recipes from the restaurants which are already successful we wanted the consumer to actually have the experience where he or she uses the product or consumes the product which must be of international class. We knew that the contents were good but we had to present the product in a manner which was perceived to be the very best. So we used the world best –pouches, we used food grade quality hold although it is very expensive, we have created the graphics and labeling on the packs with the help of international firms so that the experience when the consumer in US or in Europe looks at the pack he or she is able to see this as the same quality standard as any other top class brand that they are experiencing or that they have used. With these we have today been able to export the product over the last 2 years we have been doing it and the encouraging sign is that every single quarter we are seeing a very strong growth across all these countries in terms of being able to send the product out. there are a few challenges that lie ahead. Now that we have got our product into more than 2000 shops in US and more than 600 shops in Canada and in Switzerland and Germany we would now like to communicate directly with the consumers there and that is going to be a big challenge because it is multilingual, multicultural, multigeographic kind of marketing campaign that we will need to develop after this. some two and half years ago there was an event that took place in jaipur , ad asia and a gentle man from Singapore ,a well known marketing and advertising guru called ----had actually listed ten potential Indian brands which will become global one day, Kitchens of india was one of those brands and we were very much encouraged by that and we hope that we will be able to actually see that this happens over the next decade. Thank you.
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