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Bunge plans veg oil brand buyouts

March 12, 2004 10:12 IST

Bunge Agribussiness India, after buying the Dalda vanspati brand from Hindustan Lever Ltd last year, plans to acquire more brands and refineries in India in two years.

"India is one of our most important vegetable oil market with outstanding growth potential. Our mission is to become a leading integrated edible oil company here," said Christopher White, head (Asia-Pacific), Bunge Ltd.

White said Bunge, the billion global leader in oilseeds and edible oil, is also looking at diversifying by adding products such as ghee, margarine and soya oil.

Bunge is also planning a marketing strategy to revitalise the Rs 200 crore (Rs 2 billion) Dalda brand. Dalda still accounts for 5 per cent of the domestic edible oils market.

"We feel Dalda is one of the heritage brands of the country. It hasn't done well in the recent past only because HLL did not look at the brand as part of its core business," White said.

Bunge is also thinking about extending the Dalda brand to other categories as well. The company is already marketing refined oil under the brandname.

The Dalda buyout gave Bunge the ownership over HLL's three production plants in Trichy, Bundi and Pithampur, and also an R&D facility in Bangalore. The company also took over HLL's bakery fats brand Masterline.

Under the sale agreement, Dalda will continue to be sold and distributed through HLL's vast network throughout the country.

Last year, the company also acquired another vanaspati brand called Chambal and the Indore-based edible oil refinery Prestige Foods.

According to White, Bunge will soon roll out its new marketing campaign that includes a direct customer programme across 422 towns.

"Although India is the biggest importer of edible oils in the world, the average consumption of 10 kg per annum is lower than the world average of 18 kg. But we forsee the Indian oil market growing by 5 per cent over 10 years which gives us a great chance to leverage our global strengths," he said.

BS Corporate Bureau in New Delhi