Kochi: Eastern Condiments Pvt. Ltd, the Kerala-based producer and exporter of masalas, plans to set up new units and expand capacity as it targets a fivefold jump in business in three years.
The company will spend Rs50 crore on the expansion, which comes two decades after it started using a flopped coffee powder facility to grind coriander, chilli and other spices.
Annual revenue is expected to jump to Rs1,000 crore in three years, from Rs200 crore now, as the company expands its markets in the country and abroad, said Eastern Group chairman M.E. Meeran.
On a platter:A few Eastern Condiments products in the market.
The company would then consider a public listing, added Meeran, who ran a grocery shop in Adimali, a pepper-growing town in Kerala’s Idukki district, until 1983 before starting the coffee powder unit that gave way to his masala business.
Eastern,which makes products including turmeric, coriander and ginger powders and pickles, chicken, fish and biryani masalas, earns 25% of its revenue from expors to West Asia, Europe and the US.
Much of the company’s succcess, says S. Kannan, director of the Spices Board, comes from its ability to cater to specific regional tastes.
Running a grocery store, Meeran said, helped him understand distribution patterns and the varying tastes of people from different regions.
“Our chicken masala distributed in Kerala is not the same as that sold in Karnataka or Uttar Pradesh,” said Meeran, explaining that the company employs experts who study food habits and tastes in its various markets.
“This has helped us reach different parts of the country, especially the western and nothern regions,” he added.
The company’s expansion plan will include a chilli processing unit at the spices park in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh and a proposed coriander processing unit at Kota, Rajasthan.
Eastern will also expand capacity at its export-oriented unit in Kothamangalam in Kerala’s Ernakulam district, and plans to introduce ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook products.
In addition, its joint venture with a trading company in the United Arab Emirates for processing spices is expected to start operations in two months, said Meeran’s son and group managing director, Navas Meeran.
Eastern group is also looking beyond spices. It plans to increase its tea business capacity to 250 tonnes from 100 tonnes, set up a new unit in Andhra Pradesh to make rubber foam mattresses and use its capacity expansion to support new ventures such as tread rubber, apparel, packaged drinking water and even wind mills as an alternative energy source.