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Egg Branding Catches on in India

by 5m Editor
29 June 2010, at 9:36a.m.

INDIA - Several egg companies are now offering speciality branded eggs for health-conscious consumers.

If you have got only one egg tray in your fridge, get some more; you can soon buy custom-made eggs for children, diabetic husband, weak-hearted father, pregnant wife and so on, according to Economic Times of India.

A slew of poultry farmers such as Vangili Feeds, Suguna Group and SKM Eggs are now offering branded, value-added eggs at a premium to woo an increasingly health-conscious urban population.

"The educated people, mostly those working in the technology sector, are vigilant and pick products that suit their lifestyle; branded eggs with special features like low cholesterol, high DHM content and folic acid are well received by them," explained V.S. Manikandan of Vangili Feeds, a poultry farm based at Namakkal, Tamil Nadu, which is considered the capital of Indian poultry industry.

Branded eggs are mostly rich in protein, contain less fat and, in some cases, have herbal features and are odourless. And farmers believe it will soon become a big thing in the food and beverages market, although it constitutes only a small fraction of the country's egg market. While the whole country consumes 3.6 billion eggs every month, the branded eggs constitutes only around six million eggs. But the segment is catching up fast in cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bangalore and is growing at an annual rate of 20 per cent.

"We will bring out specialty eggs suitable for children, heart patients, diabetic patients and pregnant women," said Mr Manikandan. Vangili, which has tied up with Netherlands-based DSM Nutritional Products to supply additional vitamins through feeds to its product, plans to launch its branded value-added eggs in August.

B. Soundararajan, Managing Director of Suguna Group and a pioneer in branding eggs in the country, says branding of eggs ensures quality and convenience. He said: "After the entry of modern retail in India, the concept of branding eggs is fast catching up with eggs producers."

Suguna entered the branded egg market in 2008 with four varieties, namely Active, Heart, Pro and Shakti. For Erode-based 120 billion-rupee (INR) SKM Eggs Products, the branding of normal eggs as SKM Best eggs was a natural evolution to its already thriving egg-powder business. The company launched its product last year in Tamil Nadu and plans to enter Bangalore by September this year, followed by other big cities in Karnataka and Kerala by the yearend, said SKM Eggs Products CEO, S.K.M. Shree Shivkumar.

SKM Eggs Products will also venture into value-added eggs, he said. Nilgiris departmental store's Karnataka region area manager, Madan Kumar, told Economic Times that the demand is increasing for branded eggs although they are priced higher than loose eggs. "The branded eggs are fully packed and hygienic that it gives a premium look and appeal. So majority of our first-class customers prefer these eggs," he added.

Panipet-based animal science professor, Dr Kansal, has come out with a new brand of herbal odourless eggs. He claims that it has several unique features like odourless and are free from antibiotics, pesticides and salmonella and coliform bacteria. Dr Kansal has tied up with Bharati Walmart to sell his branded eggs at Easy Day stores in India.

In the south of the country, SKM had tied up with big retail players like Spencers and Aditya Birla's More. The Vangili group has also planned to tie-up with Metro in Bangalore apart from making its product available at other hypermarkets like Spar and Heritage.

While Suguna, SKM and Keggs are three big players in this segment, local players are also present in the country catering to their regional needs. One of them is Barwala-based poultry farmer Nitin Garg, who considers the business of branding eggs as a very risky one. He launched his brand EGGSEL consisting of selenium-enriched eggs this January.

"The sale was quite static during summer. Since the shelf life of eggs is only 15 days, I had to take back the unsold product. So, naturally the cost of product increases and it is not acceptable in the market," he told Economic Times.

The branded eggs come with the age of the egg and the expiry date so that people can buy the product with confidence compared to loose eggs. The prices range from INR18 per pack of six normal eggs to even INR45 per pack of six eggs for the value-added ones.