McCain Foods India Pvt Ltd, which entered the Indian market in 1998, has now become one of the leading names in the frozen food segment. A company, which started by supplying frozen potato fries to Wimpy’s, has now become a household name with its retail presence across India.
Vikas Mittal, Managing Director, McCain Foods India Pvt Ltd, and Ramesh Manoharan, Regional Director, Quality Assurance, Research & Development, McCain Foods India Pvt Ltd, talk about the steps they are taking to become the leading company in the frozen foods arena.
Gunjan Piplani (GP): Moving from Dabur, you recently took over as the Managing Director of McCain. What kind of expertise do you bring along and what kind of strategies have you taken up?
Vikas Mittal (VM): The whole retail expansion of McCain is about creating a brand and an FMCG model altogether. I believe all the expertise that I have accumulated over the years will go into shaping our new plans. We want to make McCain a household name in India. Our ultimate vision is that McCain should be a part of every household’s food basket. This is beginning to happen, and with my expertise, I think we can surely achieve this.
GP: The company is positive about going high on retail expansion. What are your plans on the same?
VM: Overall, we want to double our existing base for both modern trade as well as the neighbourhood kirana stores. Modern trade is in an expansion mode, so our target would be to have 100 per cent presence in modern trade shops, which have freezer reliability.
In terms of traditional trade, it is a long marathon. Right now, we are present in about 4,500 shops, but we still have a long way to go. We are facing a major challenge when it comes to the presence of freezers in these shops, but we aim to educate the shop owners about the need for freezers.
GP: What new is happening at the product front?
VM: We produce our products in India, starting from the potatoes itself. McCain Foods in India has been engaged in laying the foundation for a sustainable potato supply source through investment in an extensive agronomy programme, under which we have partnered with almost 1,200 contract farmers, mostly in Gujarat. We process about 40,000 tonnes of potatoes every year, which we might soon expand further.
We all want to eat food that is healthy, and, at the same time, tasty and easy to make. We want to cater to the woman of today, who is busy and needs instant solutions for everything. We meet the requirements of these women by making them aware of the multiple ways of cooking and providing them with options for the same.
We have launched our Idli Sambar frozen pack and we will be further expanding our portfolio by launching more products based on rice, lentils, soya and paneer.
GP: The concept of frozen food comes with a perception that it needs to be fried, but today’s health conscious generation avoids fried food. What are you doing on that front? Also, how are you creating awareness among people?
VM: We mostly go to kitty parties, interact directly and demonstrate our products to women who are our main target audience.
Ramesh Manohar (RM): The concept of oven baked products is more of a table top concept, which is yet to become widely accepted in the Indian households. Most of the households in India still don’t have an oven. But having said that, we know that ovens are fast making their way into the Indian kitchens and people want to eat healthy food. We have already started educating people about that. We would slowly imbibe this practice in visual merchandising and advertisement.
GP: What are your future expectations and how are you taking on competition?
VM: We are looking at doubling every year, as we are a growth driven company. Competition is not a barrier as our emphasis lies on educating people about our products.