US-based Dole Food Company, which sells fresh and packaged fruits globally, is entering into the Indian market through a tie-up with leading retail firm Future Group by the end of this year.
Dole Packaged Foods Worldwide, part of the 160-year old American firm, has entered into a distribution partnership with Future Group which operates several retail chains across India under the brands Big Bazaar, Foodhall, Nilgiris and Heritage Fresh among others.
“Globally, we can double the size of our business in the next five years. That cannot happen without us playing a big role in India as well. India is a very strategic market. It will be the third biggest consumers in the world in the next few years," Pier Luigi Sigismondi , global president for Dole Packaged Foods, told reporters.
Dole Food's products, which would include healthy meals, snacks and beverages, would be strictly with no added sugar and no artificial flavours, Sigismondi said, adding that the company would be targeting kids, young adults and mothers in India.
“We are developing our portfolio in detail but it would be across three-four categories and around 30 different SKUs (Stock keeping Units)," he said. The products would be available over 750 stores in over 30 cities across the country. Dole Food’s global portfolio includes dried fruits, fruit and nuts, fruit bowls, fruit jellies , juices and healthy beverages.
The company is also current in talks with local manufacturers, particularly in south and western part of India, for a possible partnership to set up its plants in the country by mid-year. Until then, it plans to import its products from some of the South East Asian countries. The company has packaging plants in three global plants in Thailand, Philippines and in the US.
At present, the $2.5 billion company is present across 70 countries with the US being its largest market. Besides India, Dole Food is also planning to expand in other parts of Asia including the Middle East apart from its ongoing expansion plans in Europe and Africa.
“As of now we are the preferred distributor of Dole Food. So to begin with Dole Food’s products would be available only on our stores. They are one of the largest fresh food companies in the world in terms of the quality and range that they have. We have talking to them for the four to five years in different areas of collaboration," Anuraag Agarwal, head, business development Future group