Diversified company ITC Ltd on Thursday launched packaged potatoes under a new brand called Farmland in its first step into the fresh fruit and vegetables segment which is largely unorganized.

ITC, which announced plans to enter this market last year, plans to introduce dehydrated onions and apples under the same brand next.

In June, the cigarettes-to-shampoo company that also has a presence in foods with staples, spices, ghee, and ready-to-eat meals, launched frozen prawns under ITC MasterChef brand. It also plans to launch frozen fruits and vegetables, ready-to-make versions, and may introduce sauces, dips and condiments later.

On Thursday, ITC launched four variants of potatoes—low-sugar potatoes, potatoes with antioxidants, baby potatoes and French fry potatoes. The company claims its potatoes are naturally low in fat and sugar with less than 0.2% fat and less than 2% sugar.

The company also plans to work with the Indian Council for Agricultural Research’s Central Potato Research Institute to build awareness among consumers about the nutritious value of the potato and dispel myths around it.

“Farmland potatoes, initially to be sold in raw form, will be priced at 10-15% higher than the local market price. These are safe and nutritious. We may look at launching frozen forms of potatoes later," said S. Sivakumar, group head (agri and IT business), ITC.

Through these, Sivakumar said, ITC will be able to stand by the government’s aim of doubling farmers’ income.

“The exposure to value-added fruits and vegetables will help ensuring farmers’ income," added Sivakumar. ITC is the largest potato seed company in India, with about 250 varieties.

Initially, Farmland products will be available in Delhi, reaching around 1,000 outlets over next three months. The company hopes to cover neighbourhood stores, modern trade outlets and also e-commerce across seven metro cities over the next 12 months. ITC will also sell these potatoes to its own and partner hotels across the country.

“Potatoes are the largest consumed vegetable in the world and in India. We believe that Farmland potatoes with their superior quality and taste in different variants will resonate well with Indian consumers who today have distinct tastes and preferences," Sivakumar said.

According to estimates by the Union agriculture ministry, domestic demand for potatoes in India is projected to be around 55 million tonne by 2025. Demand for fresh potatoes will increase from 24 million tonne in 2016 to 38 million tonne in 2025, and demand for processed quality potatoes will increase from 2.7 million tonne in 2016 to 6 million tonne in 2025.

ITC has internally set a target of generating Rs65,000 crore from its packaged food business by 2030 to reach its goal of Rs1 trillion revenue from non-cigarette packaged goods by that time.

In September, ITC chief executive Sanjiv Puri had said growth in the branded packaged food business for ITC would be fuelled by the company’s entry into fruit, vegetables and sea food, adding one new product every quarter.

Shares of ITC closed 1.52% lower at Rs265.60 on BSE on Thursday, while benchmark Sensex closed 0.08% lower at 33,573.22 points.

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