Noodles appear to be the flavour of the season, with fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) major ITC being the latest to join the bandwagon.
The company, according to sources close to the development, plans to launch noodles under the ‘Sunfeast’ brand name. ITC sells biscuits and pasta under the same brand. "With pasta under the Sunfeast name, it comes as a natural brand extension for noodles," the sources said.
ITC is understood to have set up a facility in Maharashtra to manufacture noodles, and the launch is likely to happen within a few months. When enquired, an ITC spokesperson told Business Standard: "We do not comment on market speculation."
India is a Rs 1,000-crore market for instant noodles and growing at a rate of 15-10 per cent annually. It is dominated by Nestle’s Maggi, which has about 70 per cent market share. In the last two years, there has been a lot of entrants into the noodles market with independent instant food manufacturers and retailers entering the category, looking at the growth rate.
Beginning this year, big FMCG companies, too, have joined the fray. A couple of weeks back, GlaxoSmithkline Consumer Healthcare (GSKCH) launched Foodles under the sub-name of Horlicks, while Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) is on its way to enter the category under the Knorr brand (popular for its soup).
GSKCH, HUL and ITC’s entry into noodles will heat up the competition more for Maggi, which is already facing traction from retailers’ private labels like Tasty Treat from Future Group and Feasters from Aditya Birla Retail.