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Spices market: Not a traditional FMCG market, says MTR's Sharma; branded share can go up to 50%, Edelweiss Securities' Roy

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Spices market: Not a traditional FMCG market, says MTR's Sharma; branded share can go up to 50%, Edelweiss Securities' Roy

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With reports of Hindustan Unilever (HUL) being in talks with spices maker MDH for a majority stake purchase in the company, all eyes are on the spices space.To discuss the opportunities and challenges in the spices industry, CNBC-TV18 spoke to Sanjay Sharma, CEO, MTR Foods, Sanjiv Bisht, VP-Spices & Aqua, ITC, and Abneesh Roy, ED-Institutional Equities, Edelweiss Securities.

India's spices sector is in focus amid reports that FMCG major Hindustan Unilever (HUL) is in talks with spices maker MDH for picking up a majority stake in the company. The HUL-MDH M&A deal value is pegged to be in the range of Rs 10,000-15,000 crore.

Stakeholders from the industry reckon that the sector can scale up with plenty of opportunities for acquisition while challenges also abound given a large part of it remains in the unorganised sector as well. To discuss this, CNBC-TV18 spoke to Sanjay Sharma, CEO, MTR Foods, Sanjiv Bisht, VP-Spices and Aqua, ITC, and Abneesh Roy, ED-Institutional Equities, Edelweiss Securities.
ITC's Bisht affirmed that there is plenty of opportunity in the Indian spice industry. He explained that the industry is valued at Rs 80,000 crore, whereas the branded market still stands at Rs 22,000 crore.
"The industry roughly will be around Rs 80,000 crore. Out of that, the branded category is around Rs 22,000 crore. The industry is growing at a rate of 7-10 percent and it has got good domestic and industrial potential," he said.
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Concurring with Bisht, Edelweiss Securities' Roy mentioned that branded spices account for 35 percent of the market and can definitely go up to 50 percent.
"Indian spice market will keep seeing consolidation. Last few years, we have seen multiple transactions happening; it is very attractive. So, branded spice currently is 35 percent of the total market, but I think in the long-term, this will be more like a 60-70 percent market and in the next five years, it can easily touch 50 percent of the market. So branded spices is growing more like 15-17 percent," he said.
MTR Foods' Sharma, however, is of the view that the shift from unbranded to branded spices won’t be as seamless and quick. He explained that while the spices industry is more than a century old in India with established players, there is still no national brand per se in this space.
"This is 100 year old market. The structure though in the markets are well formed, it's not something new that has started. We have been in this market now for 13-14 years. So we have seen how the market translates from branded to unbranded. It's not that there is no competition in the market, in every local market, there are 100 plus brands that we have to compete with, to translate it from an unbranded to a branded market," he mentioned.
It is not a traditional FMCG market and the movement towards the branded segment will vary, stressed Sharma.
"So we are being a little bit too optimistic in terms of what we think about things. This market is going to change towards the branded market, I am not disputing that fact, but the rate at which it is going to change, will vary. And this is not the first time that large multinationals have shown interest towards this market. We have seen people come into the market and exit out of the market, because this is not a traditional fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) market," he explained.
Sharma added that there remains a lack of a national brand.
"It's very different than what people may think. There is nothing called as a national brand. It's not so easy for someone to just come in and say I am going to take over this market, and I'm going to convert it from unbranded to branded," he added.
Watch the video for the full interview.
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