Abid Hussain Barlaskar

Packaged, cut, ready-to-cook bhindi, drumsticks, haldi paste? Mother Dairy wants to rescue lazy chefs...

Mother Dairy has launched packaged cut okra, drumsticks, turmeric paste and sweets as part of its new frozen foods lineup.

Mother Dairy Fruit & Vegetable has announced the launch of packaged cut okra (aka bhindi), drumsticks (moringa, sajna) and turmeric paste under its Safal line. The new launches are accompanied by two new packaged sweets, which further expand Mother Dairy’s sweets portfolio.

While the cut and packed vegetables are fairly new, what really stands out is the turmeric paste. Turmeric is a key spice in Indian kitchens, but has traditionally been used in fine powder form. The paste format doesn’t see a lot of usage due to lack of ready availability and the seasonality aspect of the fresh produce (available from January to March).

It also marks Mother Dairy’s entry in the spices category, albeit via the paste route. Coming back to the packed vegetables, Indians have traditionally bought their veggies from open markets. The purchase isn’t just transactional. Instead, it is more of a ritual of careful picking and choosing.

Where do the ‘frozen’ variants fit, then?

One explanation is the COVID-induced demand for safety, hygiene, immunity and trust, which fuelled the demand for ‘branded and packed’ products. This, coupled with the trend of at-home food consumption, has emerged across categories over the last several months. It has touched many sectors, which have traditionally been dominated by ‘loose’ variants, like dairy, rice, sweets, etc.

With the growing focus on hygiene, quality and convenience, Mother Dairy is out to tick the right boxes.

Safal frozen drumsticks are priced at Rs 60/pack, Safal okra cut at Rs 50/pack and Safal haldi paste cube for Rs 50/pack. The new items join Safal’s existing packaged portfolio, which includes green peas, cut jackfruit, corn and cut mixed vegetables.

Packaged, cut, ready-to-cook bhindi, drumsticks, haldi paste? Mother Dairy wants to rescue lazy chefs...

The earliest launch in the frozen vegetables was packaged peas, which was launched in the 1990s with the propositions of uniform quality and round the year availability. Mother Dairy also launched frozen jamun pulp in August last year. The ‘frozen’ line is built on Mother Dairy’s prowess in sourcing farm produce for its Safal outlets.

Packaged, cut, ready-to-cook bhindi, drumsticks, haldi paste? Mother Dairy wants to rescue lazy chefs...

But who is it for?

A Mother Dairy spokesperson tells afaqs! that Safal’s new packed vegetables are primarily for households looking for ‘hassle-free’ cooking. These will be available across 300-plus Safal fruit and vegetable outlets in the National Capital Region (NCR), and will gradually be expanded in general retail.

It comes with the proposition of “the convenience of getting pre-cut vegetables in close vicinity, retaining health benefits, avoiding price fluctuations between seasons and getting them round the year.”

The spokesperson points out that the haldi paste gets immunity brownie points, since its health and immunity benefits are compounded in its fresh form.

“Safal frozen haldi cubes are made from turmeric paste extracted from fresh haldi rhizomes, retaining all the goodness in natural form. In addition, the frozen format helps in making fresh haldi available round the year. The frozen cubes of the paste depict convenience and ready to use form, wherein consumers can use one or more portions.”

The spokesperson affirms that the paste format will compete with haldi power (MDH, Catch, and Tata Sampann) to a certain extent and will create a niche market for itself. Mother Dairy’s haldi paste could soon join the packed ginger-garlic paste made popular by brands like Mother’s Recipe, Smith & Jones, Dabur, etc.

“We strongly feel that to begin with, it will be seen as a substitute for raw haldi. The consumers, who prefer paste over powder, will find it for the first time in the market, giving Safal the first-mover advantage.”

Coming to sweets, Mother Dairy’s arch-rival Amul has been actively bumping up its sweets portfolio (with close to 30 products). The Indian traditional sweets industry is a significant (fifth largest) contributor to the dairy industry. The packaged sweets category is being driven by the increase in urbanisation, growing demand for convenience, good quality, safety and hygiene.

Packaged, cut, ready-to-cook bhindi, drumsticks, haldi paste? Mother Dairy wants to rescue lazy chefs...

Mother Dairy launched its sweets range with milk cake in Delhi NCR a few years back. The brand further extended the range with regional specialties like rasgulla, gulab jamun, rasmalai, orange barfi. The latest launches include ‘mewa atta ladoo’ and ‘Mathura peda’. These will be sold across the dairy brand’s network of around 1500 booths.

“Mother Dairy packaged sweets are targeted at safety and quality conscious 30-45 year male and female consumers of Delhi NCR,” the spokesperson says.