Indians get taste for branded edible oil as prices drop, incomes rise
By Rajendra Jadhav
SATARA, India Nov 20 (Reuters) - After years of buying cooking oil sold in plastic bags at a village store, Indian farmer Kisan Pawar has made the jump to branded packs of soyoil from a retail chain.
Falling prices of imported oil and a marketing drive that often plays on health concerns over unbranded sales are prompting more Indians like Pawar to switch to products sold by big companies such as Ruchi Soya, Adani Wilmar, Cargill and Bunge.
India's top edible oil importer Ruchi Soya sees the country's $8 billion branded oil market growing by up to 15 percent in 2015.
That's good news for overseas suppliers to the world's biggest edible oil importer, with shipments of palm oil from Indonesia and Malaysia, as well as soyoil from Brazil and Argentina, making up over half of branded sales.
"The quality of branded edible oil seems to be better. People also say it is healthier," Pawar said after buying Adani Wilmar's Fortune soyoil, sold in bright green plastic cartons with the words 'soya health' prominent on the label.
With international prices for palm oil, sunflower oil and soyoil dropping this year on bumper harvests, major edible oil companies have cut prices for their higher-margin branded products, hoping to tempt buyers at a time when incomes are rising.
Farmer Pawar, in the small town of Satara 250 km south of Mumbai, this month paid 70 rupees for a litre of Fortune soyoil that would have cost 88 rupees a year ago.
The push on branded oil also comes as companies look to shake losses at their Indian refining units after Indonesia and Malaysia started offering refined palm products at discounts over crude palm oil. Continuación...