Adding Value to Basics

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Value-added grains are soon becoming a regular item on the grocery lists; as consumer knowledge expands so does the demand to eschew the plain wheat flour and replace it with healthier variants to keep both tradition and health functioning.

Nourishment seems to be the latest catch phrase in the still blossoming branded, packaged rice and atta (wheat flour) space. To cash in on the growing popularity of value- added products among healthconscious Indians, Aashirvaad Atta, ITC’s leading staple brand of wheat flour, has recently extended its portfolio by launching a new and improved variety – Aashirvaad’s Multigrain Atta. The new variant, designed to provide nutrition to people of all ages, is an integrated mix of six different grains – wheat, soya, channa, oat, maize and psyllium husk – which together promise to provide minerals, dietary fibre, proteins and vitamins. Available in one kg and five kg packs priced at Rs 42 and Rs 200, respectively, the new variant of atta is available in select cities in traditional and modern grocery outlets. 
Market awareness about valueadded atta/rice, though, has already been created by numerous players in the market, including Hindustan Unilever’s Annapurna ‘Fortified’ Atta, General Mills’ Pillsbury Nutri- Soft Chakki Fresh Atta, Marico’s Saffola Arise and Sunira Food Products Pvt Ltd’s Heal’thySelf Healthy Atta and Super-Nutri Buckwheat Atta. According to industry experts, there is immense scope for converting unbranded, loose atta/rice consumers to branded consumers. Value-adding branded atta/rice, therefore, gives a fillip to expansion in this category, which has been witnessing double- digit growth year-onyear.
By value-adding the products, consumers have a valid reason to switch from unbranded, loose atta/rice to the one that offers enhanced health benefits. The market size, which reported 45 percent growth last year, is estimated at three lakh tonnes and valued at Rs 350 crore. Due to the dietary benefits promised by these value-added atta/rice variants, these products are extremely popular among heath-conscious consumers. 
According to Marico, for example, as compared to the regular rice, their latest offering, Saffola Arise, is better because it is made up of good carbohydrates and has a lower glycemic index (GI), a measure of the effects of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels. Because of its low GI, this rice releases glucose steadily in the body over a longer period of time, making the consumer feel energetic throughout the day. Due to the presence of good carbohydrates in Saffola Arise, as compared to the starchy carbohydrates in regular rice, it assists in staying fit and maintaining weight. Saffola Arise is available in select cities across India in one kg pouches at Rs 69 each and 4.5 kg jars at Rs 345 apiece.
On the thought behind offering value-added atta/rice, Sunira Chamaria, CEO and founder director of Sunira Foods, said, “Our products decrease plasma lipids, triglycerides and cholesterol levels and maintain blood flow, thus, lowering the risk of heart diseases, obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Rich in vitamins and minerals, our products relax blood vessels, improve blood flow and nutrient delivery while lowering blood pressure.”
Maintaining that the products offered by Sunira Foods are high-fibre, low-fat and low-GI, while being rich in zinc and magnesium, Chamaria said, “Our Super-Nutri Buckwheat Atta has been added to target diabetic consumers with heart problems as well as general customers. We have been working with a similar segment with Sorgum Sooji and Glutenfree
Dalia, too.”
Elaborating on the company’s other product offerings, Chamaria said, “Besides wheat flour, we also offer low-in-sugar masala cookies as well as gluten- and milk-free jam and choco-cream cookies. All our products are gluten- and casein-free and are manufactured at a dedicated facility. They also undergo a special immune treatment to reduce microbial activity and improve immunity.”
Sharing information regarding customer acceptance of value-added products, Chamaria noted, “The customer response has been quite good and we have been growing steadily over the last few years. We are now available in many cities across India, including Delhi and NCR, Kolkata, Mumbai, Bangalore, Jaipur, Pune, Ludhiana, Chandigarh, Bhatinda, Moga and Amritsar. We also offer online services to our customers, including free home delivery and free dietary consults.”  
Sunira Foods, its CEO said, was constantly trying to innovate on the products, taking into account customer feedback. “As the awareness and need for better health grows, we see ourselves penetrating the market further and providing improved and tastier options. We are currently exploring avenues in value-added noodles, pastas and protein powders, offering superior nutritive value for consumers,” she maintained.  
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