ITC's food business revenue hits $1-billion mark

Consumer goods major ITC Ltd has expanded its foods business to a billion-dollar one, posting revenues of Rs6,411 crore for 2014-15, in less than a decade since its 2005 debut.

ITC's revenue surge in its foods business last fiscal has elevated it to the elite category of top-five food companies in the country. It now ranks among a list that includes Parle, Britannia, Nestle and Mondelez India (formerly Cadbury).

ITC, which started off as a cigarette manufacturer, is also the first diversified company in India to register a billion-dollar-revenue mark in foods business.

Hindustan Unilever (HUL) comes a distant second in this category with a turnover of Rs5,522 crore in the foods segment.

ITC, which diversified into consumer goods business in 1996, has increased its net revenues from 5,188 crore in 1996 to Rs51,932 crore in 2015, a more than ten-fold rise in less than two decades while its non-cigarette revenue increased  from Rs1,363 crore to Rs23,553 crore during the period – an increase of more than 17 times during the period.

ITC, which entered the foods segment in late 2005, has a presence in biscuits, ready-to-eat foods, confectionery, snacks and packaged food grains. Its brands include Sunfeast, Aashirvaad, Bingo, Candyman, Mint-O, Kitchens of India, B Natural along with sub brands like Yippee and Pasta Treat.

ITC's Sunfeast YiPPee! noodles are found to be complying with strict quality and hygiene norms. Stringent tests conducted at ITC's internal laboratories as well as at FSSAI-approved and NABL-accredited labs outside have proved that ITC Sunfeast YiPPee! noodles are in compliance with all food safety regulations and are safe for consumption.

"ITC is well-positioned to establish itself as the most trusted provider of food products in the Indian market leveraging a strong portfolio of world-class Indian brands, deep understanding of the diverse tastes and preferences of Indian consumers, focus on best-in-class quality and operational excellence," ITC said in its annual report.

Currently, over 20 projects are underway in the FMCG segment, which are in various stages of development, the Kolkata-based diversified conglomerate said.

The company has made significant investment in capacity for Yippee! brand noodles that would pay off in coming days if the adverse impact on the instant noodles market following the Maggi episode doesn't prolong.

"With the commissioning of the new facility at Malur, Karnataka, the business expanded its manufacturing footprint (Yippee brand) to all the four regions of the country, which will facilitate more efficient servicing of demand going forward," ITC added.

ITC is now planning to enter the dairy segment in the next couple of months. ITC also has a gap to fill in the beverage segment, where its presence is nominal at present. ITC entered beverages with B-Natural only three months ago.

ITC chairman Y C Deveshwar had, during the last annual general meeting, said it was planning to expand its footprint in foods business with an entry in new segments such as fruit juices, dairy, tea, coffee and chocolates.

While it has already marked an entry into juices, others are likely to follow suit.