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iD Fresh Foods to expand product portfolio

LiveMint logoLiveMint 20-03-2017 Deepti Govind

Bengaluru: Helion Venture Partners-backed iD Fresh Food India Pvt. Ltd, which raised funding from Premji Invest earlier this month, will expand its product offering and launch two new types of ready-to-cook batter in the coming months even as the firm aims at Rs1,000 crore in revenue by 2020 and experiments with exporting to markets like the US and the UK.

“We’re launching vada batter in the market in the next three months. We’re also looking at ragi dosa and idli batter,” said P.C. Musthafa, co-founder and chief executive of iD Fresh Food.

With ragi dosa and idli batter, the firm will be latching on to an ongoing emergence of ragi as an alternative food and part of a growing health-food movement worldwide.

Also Read| Rising urban consumption revives ragi crop production

Bengaluru-headquartered iD Fresh Food, which began operations in 2006 as a small store, is also experimenting with wet sambhar and chutney pre-mixes that customers can finish cooking quickly at home but does not have a definite launch date for those yet.

But chutneys haven’t worked out too well for iD Fresh Food in the past. It had launched traditional tomato and coriander chutneys one-and-a-half years ago but withdrew those products from the market six months ago.

Customers were not used to paying for chutney since restaurants typically give it free along with idlis, vadas and dosas, Musthafa said. Hence, for the pre-mixes, he may experiment with combo packs along with their regular batter.

“Whatever they have done so far, they have done it pretty well. I think they have a lot of potential in the existing products itself, but my firm belief when it comes to consumer brands is that once you have created a brand, you need to expand the product portfolio,” said Harminder Sahni, managing director of retail consultancy firm Wazir Advisors.

On 8 March, the firm announced that Premji Invest, the investment arm of Wipro chairman Azim Premji, had picked up a significant minatory stake in iD Fresh Food for an undisclosed amount of investment. Most of the money the company raised will go into setting up large manufacturing facilities, followed by marketing and research and development, said Musthafa.

The company earned revenue of Rs100 crore in the financial year 2015-16. While it initially expected to hit Rs170 crore in 2016-17, after demonetisation it expects to close the year at Rs 150 crore. It is targeting Rs250 crore in the next financial year and Rs 1,000 crore by 2020.

But Musthafa does not think those targets are too high. Bengaluru’s idly batter business alone would be worth Rs 1,000 crore he estimates, with many people still choosing to make batter at home.

The company is also planning to export to markets like the US and the UK this year but termed that as an experiment and said the focus still remains on India.

Outside India, iD Fresh Food’s largest market right now is Saudi Arabia. Within India, it recently began operations in Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam and Rajahmundry and is planning to get into Ahmedabad in the next three to four months.

In India, its biggest markets are Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Mumbai in that order. But the firm expects that order to change to Chennai, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore in future since an average Bangalorean eats idly dosa only three to four times a week while the average Chennai consumer does so five times a day.

Still, Chennai is one of the harder markets for the company to crack considering the average household is more inclined there than in other cities to prefer homemade batter. But Musthafa is confident that the conversion will happen.

“About 30-40 years back we used to buy wholewheat, wash it, dry it in sunlight, take it to the mill and then bring it back to make chapathis. We can’t tell this story to our kids now because they’ll laugh at it. And in the next 20 years, you will see the same thing happening in idly dosa batter as well,” he said.

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