Changing flavours

Mumbai: Fast-moving consumer goods major Hindustan Lever Ltd (HLL) recently announced the divestment of its edible oil business to American company Bunge Co. According to the deal, the Dalda brand along with related brands, Masterline, Gold Seal, Silver Seal, Marvo, Biskin and Lily and HLL's edible oil manufacturing facilities in Trichy, Tamil Nadu, are to be sold to the US-based farm-to-consumer major for Rs 90 crore.

Since Bunge Co does not have a presence in India, HLL will continue marketing the Dalda brand for a fee, which means that there will be no changes for the distributors and stockists of the brand.

While the divestment makes eminent business sense for HLL, which wants to exit out of the low margins commodities market and increase its presence in the highly profitable value-added foods business, the decision marks the exit of one of its oldest brands.

Dalda was launched by Lever Brothers in 1936 (the company was renamed Hindustan Lever in 1956) and overtime became synonymous with the company — shopkeepers in Mumbai till the sixties referred to HLL as the 'Dalda company.'

Even now it is among the most-recalled brands of the company and old timers even remember its original packaging — it came in a yellow coloured tin with a painted palm tree on it.

Dalda was among the first branded vanaspati oil launched in India and the company, in order to increase its appeal to the public, tried as far as possible to get its look close to ghee, the main cooking medium of the time, but still didn't get the fragrance right. Yet, Dalda has its own fragrance, which came to be accepted by consumers in due course.