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Balan Natural Food adds juicy profits

July 13, 2005 12:14 IST

Fruit pulp of pink guavas and mangoes, grown in farms around Bangalore, is being shipped out of the country to Vietnam, only to be sent back to India and elsewhere -- as canned fruit drink.

Bangalore's one-year-old food processing company Balan Natural Food Ltd is reaping the benefits of globalisation, literally. It's combining the best of both worlds -- the availability of quality fruits at home and superior canning technology in Vietnam to bring its range of fruit juices to India.

To hit the Indian market around August 15, the 330 ml Miruna Pink Guava and Miruna Mango canned drinks, priced at Rs 25 each, will be available in 50 cities with two other new flavours -- lychee and mixed fruit. Currently, the company has five flavours in the canned ready-to-drink category -- grape, orange, orange-carrot apple and pineapple -- all of which are processed and packaged at its Ho Chin Minh-based factory and exported to India.

While the canned fruit drink market in India is very small, A Nandaa Kumar, chairman of Balan Natural Food Ltd, hopes that as people's aspirations grow in the positive economic climate, canned fruit drinks will make a lifestyle statement in India.

With a target to sell roughly nine lakh cans a year Kumar says, "We expect at least one third of our export sale to happen in India."  Kamdhenu Ventures -- its Ho Chin Minh-based company -- has already secured an order to supply canned fruit drinks to the Middle east and will be expanding its market base in South east Asia and east Europe.

Kumar says that Vietnam is a business-friendly nation and produces good quality sugar and fruits. One of the fastest growing companies, Balan Natural Food has an installed capacity of 7,000 trays a day (a tray consists of 36 pieces) in Bangalore and manufactures the Miruna Yo, a low fat yoghurt drink, vegetable and fruit juices and spicy butter milk in 200 ml Tetra Paks under the B Natural brandname.

Last week, it launched fruit nectars in muskmelon and guava flavours and two other fruit combo drinks in 200 ml Tetra Paks. Within a year of operation, Balan Natural Food posted a turnover of Rs 3.6 crore (Rs 36 million), which is expected to touch Rs 15 crore (Rs 1.5 million) this year.

With consumers becoming more health conscious and the fruit juice market growing at 25-35 per cent a year, V Balasubramanian, the company's CEO, says  "Ours is a hybrid company with capabilities ranging from making yoghurt to fruit drinks".

Balan Natural also imports pepper to India, co-packs fruit pulp for Dabur and manufactures rehydrating drinks for a New Delhi-based firm.
Maitreyee Handique in New Delhi
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