Monday, 28 October 2013

Mahindra & Mahindra to start selling branded apples from next month



The 16.2 BUSD group, Mahindra & Mahindra now enters into a more niche segment - branded fruit. The home grown carmaker has tied up with food retailers such as Godrej Nature's Basket, Heritage Foods to sell the apples under the brand name - "Saboro", which means - "taste" in Spanish.

The company is also in discussion with Reliance fresh to sell the fruits in the domestic market making use of their extensive and vast distribution channel.

The launch will kick off with branded apples sourced from Kinnaur in Himachal Pradesh, where they will be graded and sorted in 15 outlets in Hyderabad early next month. "Consumers want consistent quality, backed by a trusted brand and are willing to pay a 5-10% premium," says Ashok Sharma, chief executive, agri & allied business, M&M.

So quality has been the focus for this initiative: grapes were sorted according to size and colour, apples according to firmness, colour and taste and bananas according to shelf life, appearance and taste. M&M will add bananas and grapes - which it produces for export at present - and mangoes to stores in phase 2 of its launch.

According to K Ravindranath, head B&M (F&V) marketing, Heritage Foods: "The Indian fruits and vegetables market today is faced with a challenge of delivering continuous and consistent quality fruits to the consumers. As a retailer our biggest struggle today is to deliver this consistency, for which we have to check every lot that comes to our stores.

With Mahindra, we can be sure that a consistent product experience will be delivered to our consumers." Said another senior official from a gourmet store: "In a commoditised fruits and vegetables market, a consumer-facing brand will play an important role in promising consistent quality."

Other than the Adani Group's Farm Pick brand of apples, the only fruit "brands" on offer to the Indian consumer are international ones - such as Chiquita bananas and Zespri kiwis. While M&M plans to export its Saboro brand, it is also looking at importing citrus fruits and pears from South America, kiwis from Australia and apples (during off-season) from the US and China. It will also import exotic fruits like dragon fruit, passion fruit and the star fruit.

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