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Monday, April 26, 1999

Captain Cook salt back in the fray 

Chandan Dubey  
Mumbai, Apr 25: Bestfoods India, the 74 per cent subsidiary of the $ 8.4 billion International Bestfoods Limited has relaunched Captain Cook salt in the Indian market.

Acquired from DCW Home Products Ltd for an estimated price of Rs 85 crore, the brand is back on retail shelves after a hiatus of nine months. Captain Cook is available at an introductory price of Rs 6 per one kg pouch, which is a 25 per cent discount to brands like Kissan Annapurna from Hindustan Lever and Tata Chemicals' Tata salt. Although the company was not available for comment, International Bestfoods has not made any major changes in the product packaging. Even the ad campaign which went on air late last week, is a re-run of the mid-nineties campaign. However, the company is working on a fresh communication initiative to be unleashed next month in conjunction with O&M Advertising, say industry observers.

During the past one year, the complexion of the Rs 100 crore branded salt market has changed considerably. There is a new entrantin the market -- Marico Industries Limited - which launched two variants of branded salt under the Saffola umbrella early this year. The existing players, Tata Salt and HLL's Kissan Annapurna salt have been aggressively pitching for market shares. Tata Salt and Annapurna have gained market share at the expense of Captain Cook, which has lost around four per cent market share to 11 per cent due to erratic supply over the past one year. Tata Salt leads the market with an estimated share of 33 per cent. The second in the rung is Annapurna, with close to 16 per cent share.

Owing to increased competition in the marketplace, the `free flow' proposition that had established the Captain Cook brand in the early 1990's, is quite basic to the category by now. Marketers have started `adding value' and hard selling ingredients in the branded commodities market.

While Tata salt changed its positioning to `vacuum evaporated ' from `iodised salt' a few months ago, the product ingredient `iodine K15' is the focal point ofcommunication for Annapurna salt. Marico Industries is also not offering anything basic with its `potassium enriched salt' that hinges on the strong `heart care' equity of Saffola. Analysts say that Captain Cook has challenging times ahead in a competitive environment. With branded salt contributing close to 20 per cent of a five million tonne market, this category has huge potential going by the 20 per cent growth per annum. y

Copyright © 1999 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.


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