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Tue 5 Feb 2008 04:00 AM

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Tilda clamps down on rice duping in market

Rice giant to launch ‘smart choice' varieties, new packaging and purity campaign by mid-2008.

Booming demand for basmati in the Middle East combined with huge price hikes has aggravated the need for innovation and authentication.

Deepak Thawani, marketing manager for Tilda International in Dubai, has called for the establishment of rice standardisation, as it is increasingly hard to compete with basmati look-alikes in the UAE market.

"There are different varieties of rice which may look like basmati, but lack its characteristics. If they are selling at 40% cheaper then it affects my commercial interests."

The company, which enjoyed a 20% growth in sales last year over 2006, established the world's DNA laboratory Ricesearch in India, which has ensured every batch, is tested and certified as pure basmati before leaving the factory and emerged as a unique USP for Tilda's range.

Tilda has responded to the problem of basmati adulteration with inferior grains by purity testing all incoming raw materials using DNA fingerprinting technology at its state-of-the-art laboratory.

The purity campaign will be a central focus of the company's activities this year, set to include extensive in-store and door-to-door samplings.

The company is optimistic about market prospects in 2008, and hopes to bolster awareness among consumers and retailers about its products, grown along the Himalayan Belt at Punjab, Haryana and UP.

"We will talk about what DNA is, and explain there is only one basmati grain. We will try and educate them [consumers] that the basmati grain needs certain soil and climate conditions, a certain heating and cooling period, and certain amounts of sunlight and darkness."

Dubai has been selected as the global test market for Tilda's new optima packaging, which offers the benefit of infestation-resistance.

"We are introducing a small stock of the new look packaging as a pilot study across the channels. Dubai is a valuable test market for the whole world due to the plethora of food habits, and the size of the market is relative small so we can access if products have been received well," he said.

The company has typically targeted consumers with high disposable incomes with its basmati, which is highly prized for its unique aroma and delicate texture.

Thawani revealed, however, that a range of "smart choice at smart price" products will be unveiled by June.

The new products will appeal to consumers hailing from South India, he said, who opt for short grain rice varieties such as Pooni and Matta.

Thawani said demand for basmatic rice has lifted in emerging markets including Iran, however production costs have shot up for players across the category due to rocketing paddy prices.

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