With its regional blend of spices, this Coimbatore brand is competing with national players like MDH, Everest
When we talk about Indian cuisine, the first thing that comes to our mind is the wide variety of spices and aromas, tempting our tastebuds.
Coimbatore resident Dr Damodarasamy Naidu, in 1975, was running a small chain of hotels when he decided to venture into the spices business, aimed at supplying local spice mixes to them. He established Annapoorna Masalas that locally sourced the spices, blended them in a small unit in Coimbatore, and sold to hotels in the region, following a B2B model.
Both the businesses were doing well when his family member Velumani R took over the business in the mid-80s.
For 45 years, Annapoorna Masalas focussed on selling to hotels and local stores in western Tamil Nadu and did not yearn for expanding the brand out of the state. However, in 2019, the business took a different turn when Velumani’s son Vijay Prasad succeeded his father to head the brand.
In an interaction with SMBStory, Vijay Prasad, the third-generation entrepreneur of the company, talks about the rebranding and expansion strategies of Annapoorna Masalas to other geographies outside of Tamil Nadu, catering to people craving for their regional delicacies.
The taste that unites
In 2012, after returning from Australia, where he was studying Food Science and Technology, Vijay decided to join the family business. He did thorough market research and took his time to understand the business. He realised that in order to scale Annapoorna Masalas, he had to expand beyond his home state.
“We never stepped outside of Tamil Nadu and were comfortable in our zone. The expansion was required, but in a structured way as I had the responsibility of maintaining the brand’s legacy of 45 years. The business was mostly B2B, and to expand, I decided to go the B2C way,” Vijay Prasad, Executive Director, Annapoorna Masalas, tells SMBStory.
Vijay started by increasing Annapoorna Masalas’ shares in the local kirana stores by bringing in Tamil Nadu’s regional blends from across the state. He also explored Hyderabad, Guntur, Vizag, and Bengaluru to introduce the brand by stepping into modern retail trade.
In India, there is a cultural change every 300 km that affects the cuisine of the region. “We want to make local tastes of different regions accessible to metro cities,” Vijay says.
In 2019, Vijay decided to rebrand Annapoorna Masalas and launched a new corporate identity, logo, packaging, and a tagline — ‘The taste that unites.’
Annapoorna Masalas has a total of 53 products and 101 SKUs. After rebranding, it launched about 12 national-regional blends, three biryani variants, and nine Tamil Nadu regional blends.
For this, he sourced his raw materials from across India, depending on where the best quality of spices was available. According to Vijay, the chillis are sourced from Guntur, pepper from Cochin, turmeric from Selum, coriander from various parts of Rajasthan, and so on, through commission agents in the yards.
Annapoorna Masalas’ manufacturing unit is situated in Coimbatore, which has increased its manufacturing capacity from three metric tonnes to 35 metric tonnes monthly in recent years.
In FY 2019-20, the spice mix brand raked in annual revenue of Rs 35 crore. Vijay says the company is confident of closing FY 2020-21 with a turnover of Rs 42 crore, with a projection of Rs 200 crore in revenue in the next three years.
Annapoorna Masalas is also available on ecommerce portals like Amazon, Bigbasket, Flipkart, and Paytm Mall.
Making the product visible
Over the past few years, the increasing popularity of social media and other digital platforms has presented an immense opportunity for consumer brands to adopt a multi-modal approach to talk about the brand and its products. In fact, it also engages with consumers in unique and innovative ways.
“2020 was a big year for us as people stayed at home during the COVID-19 imposed lockdown and enjoyed cooking. The cooking-at-home increased, and so the demand for spices. Our regional blends, for example, Tuticorin Parotta Salna Masala, Kashmiri Dum Aloo Masala, Andhra Kodi Veppudu Masala — attracted many customers,” Vijay claims.
In fact, recently, Annapoorna Masalas started a digital campaign for one of its speciality products – Kongunadu Nattu Kozhi Kulambu Masala.
“In the six-week campaign, we posted various recipes prepared using this blend, educating consumers about the history and food culture of the Kongunadu region through blogs, speciality of the cuisine. The highlight of this campaign was the virtual cook-along contest with Chef Nala,” Vijay adds.
Annapoorna Masalas also has its advertisements aired on YouTube and OTT platforms, including Hotstar, Zee5, and SunNxt.
Tamil Nadu's regional blends by Annapoorna Masalas
Striving in the market
FMCG is the fourth-largest sector in the Indian economy. With an increase in demand for spices on account of expanding urbanisation, the Indian spices market will experience a growth at a CAGR of 4.80 percent during the forecast period of 2019-2025.
Annapoorna Masalas compete with national-regional brands like MDH, Everest Masala, Catch Spices, and regional brands like MTR, Aachi.
Explaining how Annapoorna Masalas differentiates from its competitors, Vijay says the brand provides personalised offerings to food lovers and connoisseurs in every region, something that he believes sets Indian cuisine apart.
Spicing it up
The COVID-19 pandemic has steered the conversation towards safe consumption of food and home-cooked meals, and Vijay says it a great opportunity for spices companies to curate blends, enabling consumers to prepare and enjoy delicacies together.
“It is estimated that the Indian spices and masalas market is forecasted to grow at a CAGR of over nine percent, which is a big opportunity to develop more regional blends and revive the traditional and regional cuisines,” he adds.
Annapoorna Masalas has also drawn up an ambitious plan to go deeper into regions beyond Tamil Nadu like Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, and Karnataka, through the modern trade channel by launching demand-based exclusive blends.
It is also working on R&D for introducing various seasonings.