The wheat flour industry in India is worth more than Rs 15,000 crore today. Consumers have graduated from using loose atta to understanding the importance of packaged atta. This transformation in consumption trends has been accompanied by a building of faith in flour brands. The underlying change in consumer behavior and its evolution has been brought about by Indian women, who today, prefer to outsource their previously unproductive labor to the brand or retailer or to the family member who is more informed about value-added products in the market.
Perhaps, buying ready-made atta by a housewife is an expression of the freedom she has now come to enjoy. It is also a way for working women to express their contribution towards the well-being of the family.
Whereas wheat flour has moved to the more value-added packaged category of branded foods, very less attention has been paid to the other flours category – pearl millet, maize, amaranth, sorghum, rice, and buckwheat to name a few. Consumers still mostly buy these grains and get them freshly ground. These flours are very regional in nature and season-specific, but with the changing times and the awareness of the goodness of these grains, there is a greater attraction for these products among consumers and there is more interaction with these grains.
Taking this as a cue, the food industry has also introduced products made from ragi, oats, pearl millet, etc. For example, in namkeens, a wide range has been introduced in ragi farsan and bhujia categories. Bakers are learning to incorporate more of these grains in the baking industry for making cakes, muffins and breads.
The consumer of today wants more than just refined flour. At Future Consumer Enterprise Limited, the FMCG arm of Future Group, we have introduced a brand called Desi Atta Company. It is a first food collective in the country to introduce such a wide range of flours including maize atta, pearl millet atta, amaranth atta, moong dal atta, urad dal atta, buckwheat atta, water-chestnut atta, multigrain dosa atta, multigrain bhatura atta, oats atta, besan laddoo atta etc.
The brand has been conceptualized after finding a bigger business opportunity, which is about atta being center of the plate. It is positioned as a leader in atta and atta-based cuisines and has the widest range of products. The brand draws on the diverse atta palate of the nation and caters to every community, life-stage, lifestyle and health needs. Going further, the brand wants to celebrate the diversity of our Indian society and become its partner on the road to prosperity.
The products sold by Desi Atta Company go through extensive research and development and quality check parameters before they are launched in the market. When the brand was launched in November last year, it sold about 10,000 packets. In less than six months of the launch, we have seen a quantum jump in sales – more than 60,000 packets were sold in the last month alone.
Consumers are coming to buy the products again and again for the freshness quotient they have to offer. We were surprised to find the number of people picking up these products for alternative recipes other than those mentioned on the pack. As an example, a product like maize flour is picked up by the younger generation to make tortillas wraps and tacos.
The consumer has not only been using and enjoying the product for making traditional recipes such as makai roti and sarson ka saag but extending its usage beyond just making rotis. On the other hand, besan laddoo atta is gaining extreme popularity for the taste and convenience it offers. All you need to do is add the melted ghee in the premix- and experience the most fulfilling besan laddoos within two minutes. Even a four-year-old can make laddoos now, which, once was a sweet that needed great expertise.
Quite clearly, flours are not used in the same way like they were in the older times. And there is a value addition being done at home through the addition of vegetables, dals or other ingredients.
Our aim is to minimize the huge amount of chores that were earlier required to feed one’s family to its favorite atta-based cuisines. We want to simplify and deliver the recipes that are known to be time taking. Our products ensure that they can still be enjoyed without the strain of putting any extra effort. Today when consumers enjoy higher disposable incomes but have less time to spare, the atta opportunity is a potential need gap that we at Future Consumer Enterprise Ltd are best poised to leverage.
A company is as good as its people and we are fortunate to have an amazing and committed team, which is passionate about taking the brand to greater glory. We expect the brand to grow more than 10 times over the next year. In pursuit of this goal, we will be introducing many more new product ranges that will not just be exciting but will also titillate and soothe your culinary senses.
About The Author: Ritika Baheti is Brand Entrepreneur – Desi Atta Company