Benita Chacko

Instant breakfast gets ITC's Aashirvaad

After brands like Maggi and Kellogg's, the atta brand has also made its entry in the category. But is it too late?

Missed the alarm. Late for work. Need quick breakfast solution before heading out. No time to order in.

Late-night presentation. Morning chaos. School-bus honking. Need quick breakfast solution.

Friday morning. Cook calls in sick. Never made breakfast before. Can’t differentiate between suji and poha. Need quick breakfast solution.

For all these problems, instant breakfast mixes are the go-to solutions. They need no cooking. Only some boiling water and a few minutes and you have a piping hot breakfast ready.

And now the latest entry in this category is ITC under its FMCG brand Aashirvaad. Having consolidated its leadership in the branded atta industry; Aashirvaad will also be foraying into the value-added adjacent vermicelli category.

Instant breakfast gets ITC's Aashirvaad

The brand has introduced mini idli sambar, veggie upma, khatta meetha poha and suji halwa in the instant meals category. Most of these products are available in ITC’s e-store and on e-commerce websites. They are also available in modern retail and grocery stores.

Apart from its Atta, the brand also has a significant presence in the dairy, salt and spices category. More recently, it made its entry in Super Foods as well.

Instant breakfast gets ITC's Aashirvaad

The breakfast mixes category already has the likes of MTR, Gits, Maggi, Kellogg's, Mother’s Recipe and Eastern Masala and many other local brands. Some of these brands, like Kellogg, forayed into the category at the onset of the pandemic when house helps were unavailable and people were working from home. So is it too late for ITC to enter this space?

We reached out to industry experts to get their opinion on the same.

Ruchira Jain
Ruchira Jain

Ruchira Jain, founder, Elevate Insights, ex-director PepsiCo.

Convenience is not a fad or a Covid-specific need but a long term consumer energy that is here to stay. As consumer's affluence level grows, they tend to reach out for brands they trust and hence brands gain via conversion from the unpackaged market. Even as they are late entrants, this is a massive opportunity! While poha, upma, idli are traditionally breakfast items, these tend to serve as light meals or snacks that can be consumed any time. At this price, from a trusted name like Aashirvaad, the range should get a good trial. The make or break in this category is in product delivery and ready availability.

Instant breakfast gets ITC's Aashirvaad

Kalyan Karmakar, food writer and brand consultant.

There is a larger social change happening beyond the pandemic. The children of many domestic helps are now going to English-medium schools, getting jobs at BPOs and malls and some even join the IAS. So in the long run it is likely that it will be difficult to find help in India. Soon, like in the West, we will have to move to convenience foods. So ITC is not too late. In a long distance race the strong runners eventually catch up. A few months here and there won’t make a difference.

The dependence on convenience food which we had in the first six months of lockdown is going to reduce a bit in the short term. But in the long term people are moving into convenience food. With double income homes and nuclear families there is a demand for it. Also people in the north would not know how to make a Puliyogare and those in the south would not know how to make Chole without these ready mixes.

With their existing products, ITC has already made an entry into households as a trusted brand. So chances are that any further products from them are more likely to be trusted. Though Maggi has a similar penetration, it isn’t really known to be healthy. I really doubt if Kellogg's has the kind of penetration that ITC products would have. ITC has a huge retail network advantage at a Kirana level and rural penetration as well. And that's always been of use to them. With all of these, they really have a strong armoury.

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