|HOME | BUSINESS | FEATURE|
June 12, 2000
The Rediff Business Special/Sharat Pradhan
'Nut King' J R Pillai to take on the might of MNCs
The Rs 20-billion BETA group is about to wage a 'cashew-nut war' against the popular potato chips produced and marketed in a big way by different multinational companies in India.
BETA group chairman J Rajmohan Pillai is all set to take on the might of the MNCs with the launch of his 'Nut King' in Uttar Pradesh. "We are going to offer cashew-nuts at the price of potato chips," said Pillai, the younger brother and heir of deceased biscuit king Rajan Pillai.
"We are bringing out 25 gram pouches of world class Nut King cashews for Rs 12-Rs 15. This is close to what a packet of chips costs," he said, adding, "now it is for you to choose between cashews and potato chips."
The bigger pouches of 100 grams would also be available for Rs 40, which, points out Pillai, "was only marginally higher than what a customer was paying for potato chips, which work out to about Rs 350 per kilo."
He scotched the popular belief that cashew nuts are full of cholesterol . "We make it clear on our packing that our cashews have zero per cent cholesterol, which is not the case with potatoes," he says.
A strong advocate of promoting indigenous products, the young chief of BETA group has plans of giving the MNC food chains a run for their money.
Enthused by the response to his company's new range of Chinese ethnic foods, he proposes to introduce a similar range of Indian ethnic foods. "I am of the view that Indian ethnic foods stand a fairly high chance against top global brands like Maggi or even food chains like McDonalds, Pizza King, Kentucky Fried Chicken," he asserts.
He cites the example of Japan and Korea where strong nationalist feelings even found their way to the people's palate. "These multinational food chains had caught the imagination of the populace in these countries too for a while, but soon they were taken over by conventional or ethnic foods," he says.
"Sure enough they will meet the same fate in India where people have a strong tendency of returning to their roots," he says.
The group's Rs 4.5-billion unit in Thailand was thriving largely on the large Chinese ethnic food market. "Our range of Chinese ethnic foods was the hottest selling in China," he claims.
Pillai feels that despite their enormous capacity to pump in money, MNCs had failed to impress the Indian audience with their ethnic foods. "Take the case of Maggi, which had gone in for a wide range of pickles. However, with someone sitting in Switzerland deciding what would suit the taste of a person in Kerala or Uttar Pradesh, they failed miserably," he says.
Keeping this in mind, he proposes to shortly go in for a new range of pickles, catering to varied Indian tastes: for the eastern, western, northern and southern regions. Likewise, introduction of papads, namkeens and canned foods and juices was also on the cards.
We are setting up two new canning units in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal and, considering the abundant availability of mangoes in Lucknow, we would also look into the possibility of setting up a pulp-extraction unit somewhere near Lucknow," he said.
"It's high time the Indian government did something to assist the Indian industrial houses in thwarting the bid of multinationals to overrun indigenous companies," Pillai feels.
"Today, Japanese and Korean financial institutions have virtually stopped funding Western MNCs. Ninety-five per cent of Japanese funds, and 90 per cent of Korean funds, are for their own companies, he says.
|Tell us what you think of this feature|
SINGLES | NEWSLINKS | BOOK SHOP | MUSIC SHOP | GIFT SHOP | HOTEL BOOKINGS
AIR/RAIL | WEATHER | MILLENNIUM | BROADBAND | E-CARDS | EDUCATION
HOMEPAGES | FREE EMAIL | CONTESTS | FEEDBACK