Tata Consumer to target food services industry

  • Tata Consumer is set to enter the food services market by offering its range of salt, tea, coffee, and gravies to hotels and restaurants.

Suneera Tandon
First Published22 May 2024
Tata Consumer sells a wide range of packaged food products across pantry staples to snacks.
Tata Consumer sells a wide range of packaged food products across pantry staples to snacks.

Mumbai: Tata Consumer Products Ltd (TCPL) which sells tea, coffee, water, salt, pulses, spices, ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat offerings, is set to enter the food services market by offering its range of salt, tea, coffee, and gravies to hotels and restaurants, said a top executive at the company.

“We are looking at setting up our distribution system for HORECA ie. hotel, restaurants and cafes," Sunil D’Souza, TCPL’s managing director and chief executive said. "Everyone uses water, spices, pulses, tea, coffee; now, I've got sauces, and dips. It's a separate distribution channel. There are distributors who only address that but now with Capital Foods coming in, we have the luxury of building out a strong channel only addressed to this. We're still working out how it will operate. That is a channel opportunity which exists and we've not addressed it yet.” 

Earlier this year the company announced the acquisition of Capital Foods, owner of the Ching’s Secret packaged noodles and condiments brand, and Smith & Jones brands, and Organic India, a company that sells organic teas and health foods.

This, said D’Souza, allows the company to expand its distribution channels beyond general and modern trade stores and take its wide range of products to the business-to-business market. 

For instance, Ching's Secret gives the company a large play in the gravies and condiments segment. It also owns Tata SmartFoodz Ltd that operates in the ready-to-eat segment selling pasta, noodles, biryani and combo meals.

Distribution arm for hotels

D’Souza said the company is contemplating setting up a separate distribution arm that caters to hotels and restaurants supplying them with products such as salt, water, sauces and tea among other products in its portfolio of packaged foods. 

Currently, the same is done through third-party wholesalers.

“Companies (hotels, restaurants) are currently buying (our products) from wholesalers or some unorganized distributor. Some of the big multinationals operating in this country do have food service businesses, we don't. This is an opportunity for us to build. It’s going to happen shortly,” he said. 

TCPL was formed after Tata Chemicals, a chemical company, selling salt and pulses, was merged with Tata Global Beverages in 2019. The company now sells a wide range of packaged food products across pantry staples and snacks.

Read | With premium coffees and pricey hair serums, FMCG firms woo the well-heeled

To be sure, companies such as Nestle India and Hindustan Unilever Ltd already operate in the food services market. For instance, Unilever Food Solutions India sells sauces, gravies, seasoning, ketchups, dressings for professional chefs. It sells the products under brands such as Knorr, Kissan, Rex, Brown and Polson, among others. Nestle operates Nestlé Professional in India, dedicated to serving the requirements of the out-of-home consumption via vending machines and food services.

Additionally, the company is also working towards selling more products in pharmacies.

“Most important in India, we've got some products which appeal to the pharma channel. But we never had the heft or the scale to build a dedicated go-to-market. So like Tata GoFit, Soulfull, Tetley, these do sell in the pharma channel, but now with the Organic India infusions and more importantly, the supplements coming in, we will focus on building a full go-to-market to address the pharma opportunity in India. I would say in the next three months or so we should be able to work out our detailed strategy, because, remember, the pharma channel operates slightly differently from all the other channels we are used to addressing,” he said.

Also Read | For FMCG, rural markets finally deliver some cheer

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