It is early to assess the real business impact of COVID 19 right now says Dy CEO, Adani Wilmar
It is early to assess the real business impact of COVID 19 right now says Dy CEO, Adani Wilmar

Adani Wilmar’s "Fortune" brand, the largest selling edible oil brand in the country. The country’s fastest-growing food brand has transformed its visual identity with the launch of a new logo through its entire range of products including edible oils, Atta, besan, etc., in February.

There have also been a host of other developments at Adani Wilmar in recent months. The company recently forayed into the ready-to-cook segment with the launch of Fortune Khichdi.  Fortune Atta crossed a turnover of Rs. 230 crore in the very first year of its launch, reinforcing the trust Fortune as a brand enjoys among customers. In an exclusive conversation with Angshu Mallick, Dy CEO, Adani Wilmar Limited talks about  further growth plans.

Adani Wilmar has been operating here for almost twenty years now. Can you give us a timeline for Adani Wilmar and how it has phase by phase captured the growth in Indian market? Also, how do you see the growth trajectory from here?

Fortune was born in the year 2000 with three humble offerings – Fortune Soyabean Oil, Fortune Sunflower Oil, and Fortune Cottonseed Oil.Fortune became India’s largest selling cooking oil brand in just 18 months, and today it offers a range of oils spanning across soya, sunflower, mustard, groundnut, cottonseed, rice bran, and Fortune Vivo Pro Sugar Conscious Oil. Brand Fortune has successfully transformed from being known as just an oil company to food company and has also been extended its product basket by adding food categories such as Wheat flour, Basmati Rice, Pulses, Soya chunks, Besan, and the recently launched ready-to-cook Khichdi.Fortune entered the Foods segment in the year 2013, with the launch of, Besan. It was followed by the launch of Soya Chunks in 2014, Basmati Rice in 2015, and Wheat Flour in 2017. The ready-to-cook Khichdi was launched in 2019.

Today, through its units spread across the country, the brand reaches 30 million households, sells through *1.5 million retail outlets (*As per Nielsen Retail Measurement Services). With all these categories in our kitty, we are the biggest branded commodities / staples in the country.

We are completely prepared for this transformation chapter in the journey of the brand and have already started taking huge strides with the launch of several new products.

How would you assess the growth in your flagship brands Fortune ‘oil’   Atta, besan and suji? Also, what is growth rate in the newly added pulse and ready to cook categories? What is the strategy to further expand these brands?

Brand Fortune stands for Trust which millions of consumers have garnered on the brand over several years and in reciprocation we have left no stone unturned in developing a flourishing product basket that comprises of not just oils but food staples as well. Fortune brand has evolved from being the number one cooking oil brand to be among the fastest growing Foods brands in India. Today, after almost 2 decades, the brand witnesses a complete revamp to gear up for meeting the new challenges in the future not just as a No.1 Oil Brand but as a No.1 Foods Brand. We are confident that with this renewed zeal and enthusiasm we will reach more households in the country and especially the younger families who believes in modern outlook of the society.

Fortune Atta was test marketed in a select geography, and post meeting internal metrics, rolled out nationally. We are presently operating through one owned unit and four exclusive toll units. In view of growing demand, we are constantly looking to expand capacities. A logical extension to our successful launch of Fortune Chakki Fresh Atta, we introduced products like Maida, Sooji and Rawa, further strengthening our food portfolio.

The overall ready-to-cook category in India, which in addition to ready-to-mix also includes instant noodles, soup and pasta, has been growing at a Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 15-20% for the last several years, and is projected to maintain similar or achieve even higher growth in the coming years. The increase in number of working women and their busy schedules is one of the main reasons for growth of ready meals. Our product Superfood Khichdi whichcomprises of ragi, flax, sesame, jowar, bajra precisely caters to the same audience by providing them both health and taste without investing too much time in cooking.Though local grocery shops remain the preferred channel for purchase of ready-to-eat products, the presence of large retail chains and online channels is also contributing towards increasing the demand for such products. It shall be available initially in Delhi market, and in E-Comm portals. It is being supported by press, outdoor, and promotions on social media.

How are you growing your distribution in tier 4 and 5 cities where the presence of online trade is less? Also, online is emerging as a very strong distribution channel as far as FMCG products are concerned. How bullish you are on this channel? Also, what is the share of FMCG in your profit pie?

As an FMCG firm, we have always tried to reach each and every consumer with superior quality products at affordable prices. While growing successfully in the urban we felt the gap and shifted the focus to rural market. We have initiated Rural expansion in high population states across zones in the country, directly reaching to several rural towns under Rural Project. As far as the E-Comm channel is concerned, it is growing rapidly and we, being the biggest player in staples, certainly aiming to tap this space. We have made our products available on all the leading E-Comm portals and followed it with heavy promotions.  

How you are leveraging technology to integrate the distribution from multiple marketplaces and improve the customer experience?

It is evident that digitization is a key to success. It is extremely crucial to match your speed with the changing time and digitization helps you to do that. We keep ourselves aligned with the market trend and simultaneously keep our eye on the changing consumer trends. This has been possible due to digitization. Our Go-To-Market (GTM) strategy helps in diagnostic study for better understanding of existing business structure and its relevance to new products & identifies capability gaps across the chain. We are the first to introduce this technology in the edible oil industry in India. An optimum use of technology is made under the GTM strategy by rolling out Sales Force Automation (SFA) and Distribution Management System (DMS) technology across 210 cities in the country. The plans are afoot to cover around 50 cities in another three months’ time. 

Kindly highlight your growth plans for FY20-21?

The percentage of consumers in branded commodities except edible oils which is around 50%-55% is meagre. The target for this year is to increase the branded customer base in categories like Atta, Basmati Rice, Non-Basmati Rice, Besan etc. We will focus on gaining share in these categories and further strengthening our position in branded commodities. The company is firm on its belief of embarking on research led innovations at regular intervals. Be it our unique Rice Bran oil or Vivo Pro Sugar Conscious Oil which helps in managing blood sugar levels and sugar related complications. With the introduction of these innovative brands, the company promises to continue progressing on the path of research based innovative concepts.

At last, how would you assess the impact of COVID 19 on overall food businesses in India?  

Although there is a much scare in the country, but it is still early to assess the impact. However, we are expecting that people will start stocking up on staples like rice, wheat flour, oils and other essential items. At present, there is a scare that things will go from bad to worse. 


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