Branded curry masalas become cheaper
KOCHI: Branded curry masalas have become cheaper by more than 30%, thanks to a drop in the prices of coriander and chillies, two key ingredients.
The big names in the curry masala business have been forced to cut prices by 30-40% in the last few weeks to compete better with players in the unorganised sector.
The branded masala segment accounts for about a quarter of the consumer packet market for masalas in the country.
Coriander prices have dropped 40% this year to about Rs 50 per kg, while prices of red chillies have fallen 60% to Rs 35 per kg and below on the back of a bumper output. Coriander contributes to 40% of the curry masalas while the share of chillies comes to about 10%.
Most of the major curry powder companies go for bulk purchase soon after harvest, and this time there has been a rush for purchases from the unorganised market as well. “It is good for consumers as we pass on the benefit. But we face increased competition from the unorganised sector,” said Krishna Kumar Menon, head of procurement and stores of Eastern Condiments Pvt. Ltd., a major player in the field which purchases 20,000 tonnes of chillies and coriander annually.
However, some companies prefer to wait before effecting price changes. “We are evaluating overall cost impact as there have been positive and negative gains lately. Though there has been reduction in Guntur chilli and coriander prices, which we use for many of our masalas, there are other spices where prices have gone up, like cumin and Bydagi chilli,” said Ankur Bhaumik, COO of MTR Foods Pvt. Ltd.
With prices of spices like chillies having touched rock bottom, new players are entering the field as they can buy cheap. “Quality will be compromised as a result. For instance, poor quality red chillies are available at even Rs 25 per kg,” said Ashok Mani, director of Kitchen Treasures of the Synthite Group.
The curry masala manufacturers fear that distributors may indulge in speculation and hold the stocks to spike the prices in the coming weeks. Usually, the companies make two or three purchases a year to cover the risk of price fluctuation. Last year, chilli prices had touched a record high.
Source: ECONOMIC TIMES
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