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Acquisition boosts Cargill brand portfolio in India

By Emma Edwards , 29-Mar-2011

Cargill has expanded its brand portfolio in India with the acquisition of the refined sunflower oil brand Sweekar from Mumbai-based consumer goods manufacturer Marico.

Sweekar, which was acquired for an undisclosed sum, is a well established consumer brand associated with health and nutrition. A national brand with a heritage spanning two decades, it became one of India’s leading brands in the sunflower oil category.

The move will expand Cargill’s reach into India’s premium sunflower oil market and “underscores Cargill’s long-term commitment to growing our consumer food business in India,” said Siraj Chaudhry chairman Cargill India.

The agreement is limited to the product brand only, “there are neither assets nor people included in the scope of the acquisition,” Ishteyaque Amjad, director corporate affairs Cargill India told FoodNavigator.com. “Production will move to Cargill’s own edible oil refinery.”

This announcement follows the recent acquisition of vegetable oil brand, Rath, which was acquired from Agro Tech Foods, an affiliate of US-based ConAgra Foods, in November 2010.

Cargill owns and operates three edible oil refineries in India located at Paradip (Orissa), Kandla (Gujarat) and Kurkumbh (Maharastra).

Healthy porfolio

Sweekar will join the company’s existing range of edible oils, NatureFresh, Gemini and Rath. “By adding Sweekar to our portfolio of ..healthy and low absorption oils, we are now better placed to serve the growing number of health-conscious consumers in India,” said Amjad.

India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world and its health and wellness market has experienced rapid growth. Market analysis from Euromonitor International reports the region’s health and wellness market has doubled in value in the period 2005-2009 to be valued at €2,823.1m in 2009.

“With the increased purchasing power, the standard of living is improving and thereby resulting in better and health conscious dietary habits,” explained Amjad. “[Consumers] are becoming increasingly value seeking instead of just being price conscious. For that extra bit, they do not mind paying a premium. Changes in urban lifestyle have also contributed to consumers’ preference for healthy and convenient food products.”

Market for growth

Oils and fats is one of the largest sectors in India’s health and wellness packaged foods market. Euromonitor International values it at €78.9m in 2009 and forecasts strong growth of 74.4 per cent in value by 2014.

“Although the current consumer base of health conscious consumers is very small, it is constantly growing. The health and wellness food and beverages market is expected to grow further,” commented Amjad.

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