Abid Hussain Barlaskar
Marketing

Nilon’s counters Maggi’s sachet masala with western blended spices; can it become a 'household name'?

The new range of western blended spices from the processed foods company includes seven new global flavours – from pasta to garlic bread.

Piri-piri, chow mein, pasta, garlic bread, noodles, pizza – these are all names of global flavours or cuisines fom across continents. These are also variants of packaged spice mixes from the new range of western blended spices from processed foods company Nilon’s.

In conversation with afaqs!, Dipak Sanghvi, managing director of Nilon’s says that these sachets priced at Rs 5 are aimed at catering to the growing appetite of Indians (especially children) for global cuisines while also easing the lives of Indian mothers. Indian moms today are often at their wit’s end when trying to match up to their kids’ demands for restaurant-like western food, at home.

One cannot just cook up a bowl of pasta or a pizza with garam masala. It needs the ‘blend of Italian herbs’ to get the flavour and taste profile right.

Sanghvi mentions that these fancy flavours have seeped out of resaturants in the top cities and have found firm footing in households in small town markets like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha.

Dipak Sanghvi
Dipak Sanghvi

He credits the growing exposure to television and other media in the hinterland as a major force driving the trend.

"The newer generation wants it and hence it becomes a powerful tool in the hands of mothers."

Nilon’s today sells around 18-20 lakh sachets of pasta masala every month in an interior market like Bihar. “That is over 2 crore sachets of pasta masala in a year. The newer generation wants it and hence it becomes a powerful tool in the hands of mothers who want a happy meal for kids while also getting convenience.”

He explains that while large cities like Mumbai and Delhi obviously have higher consumption of western cuisine but they are not the brand’s core markets. Nilon’s has traditionally catered to the hinterland.

Apart from its pickles business, the company mainly offers ingredient products (like vermicelli, pasta, soya chunks, etc.) and recipes (like blended spices, sauces and chutneys). It also offers instant pasta and soup. Pickles alone used to contribute 50 per cent of sales around five years back. Today, pickles accounts for around 25 per cent of the company’s business despite growing as a category. The numbers are mainly driven by the growth in recipe products.

Sanghvi mentions that unlike commodity or ingredient items, the recipes tend to retain 95-97 per cent of the market. “An ingredient product like vermicelli could witness a surge in demand due to market conditions like availability or pricing, but it subsides the moment there is another price driven supplier.”

Given the high market retention rate, the brand’s latest ad campaign featuring star Pankaj Tripathi is aimed at generating more trials while also assuring the usage of quality ingredients. Each of the brand’s new films end with the tagline ‘Isme Pyaar Mila Hai’ which further builds on the emotional aspect of preparing a meal.

Nilon’s counters Maggi’s sachet masala with western blended spices; can it become a 'household name'?

Western blended spices is growing at almost double the pace of Indian blended spices at 18-20 per cent and the market is valued at around Rs 1,000 crore. The largest player is Maggi’s Masala-ae-Magic which has a umami taste profile. Smith & Jones from Capital Foods also offers Pasta and Peri Peri masala in sachets like Nilon’s.

However, unlike Maggi and Smith & Jones, Nilon’s has decided to put forth a much wider portfolio of flavours. The goal is to completely own the space of Western Blended Spices. Nilon’s Magical Magical masala directly counters Nestle’s Maggi Magic Masala. “A family that cooks pasta, also tries out a lot of other stuff like noodles, pizza, etc. If consumers want to prepare any western food at home, they would recall Nilon’s for its entire range of flavours.”

"A family that cooks pasta, also tries out a lot of other stuff like noodles, pizza, etc."

Sanghvi equates the scenario with the way branded Indian spices are consumed in an Indian home. A household that uses turmeric powder from MDH, also uses other required spices or mispice mixes from the same brand.

On a similar note, Nilon’s has also launched launched its Pizza Pasta Sauce along with Schezwan Chutney.

Speaking on the selection of flavours for the portfolio, Sanghvi says that items like pizza, pasta and noodles have achieved mass market interest over years unlike say, Mexican or Thai flavours which are still focused on HORECA scenarios.

The sachet servings are designed to keep the mixes fresh while countering the hygroscopic nature (tends to absorb moisture) of spices. These will be sold mostly in traditional retail alongside a focus on ecommerce.