McCain Foods (India) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of McCain Foods in Canada. Since its inception in India in 1998, they have been engaged in agriculture R&D, and it is the pioneer in developing the frozen food market in India and the sub-continent countries. In 2007, McCain set up their production plant in Gujarat, India. Also, they launched their first product - 9mm french fries followed by smiles, which today is a household favorite for everyone in India.
Speaking about the India business, head of Sales, Marketing, and Retail, Aditya Krishna, stated, “In 2008, we commenced our retail operations and launched other products in our portfolio, including appetizers. Since then, we have launched various products, keeping consumer needs and wants in mind. French Fries are one of its most popular products of McCain, along with smiles, chili garlic potato bites, and aloo tikki. We have recently introduced french fries, pepper crunch, and v-crispers. We are grateful to receive the love and acceptance of our products across India from our inception to now.”
Pioneers of frozen snacks in India
McCain India pioneered the development of the frozen snacks market in India. Krishna proudly quoted, “We have the widest range of frozen vegetarian snacks catering to consumers, food services customers, and QSRs. Our local innovation center has further made us capable of developing products to cater to the needs of the Indian market. Additionally, we have played a role in building frozen infrastructure by deploying freezers across key retail stores. This has grown the frozen foods category by bringing the category close to the consumer.”
McCain India ensures food safety and quality standards are maintained at each level, from Agronomy to consumer households. The production is carried out in the state-of-the-art manufacturing facility at Mehsana, which is approved by FSSAI and meets the GFSI requirements. Additionally, the plant is certified to various other Food Safety and Quality certifications, including AIB.
McCain’s proposition of ‘3 minutes mein done’ has played a key role in driving category growth since 2012. Krishna revealed, “For our food service customers, we have built platforms like McCain Star Chef where we give the opportunity to budding chefs to showcase their talent. We will soon come back with season 2 of Star Chef.”
R&D and innovation are key growth drivers for the industry. It is important to keep pace with the fast-evolving needs of consumers, and companies will need to innovate fast to grow in India.
Krishna said, “One of our core values is quality. We endeavor to provide consumers with food they can serve to their families without hesitation. Our flash-freezing technology allows us to keep our products fresh for up to 12 months without using preservatives. We have also pledged to make all our products preservative-free in the next few months, and these new recipes will be in the market during the festive season. By keeping in mind one goal- making good food better, we use locally grown potatoes.”
In terms of sustainability, McCain’s innovative practices aim to improve agricultural resource efficiency by partnering with farmers for water usage efficiency and educating farmers. He specified, “In our food production process, we use as few ingredients as possible and limit the use of artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives. McCain is also focused on reimagining a more sustainable way to grow potatoes with the ‘Farms of the Future’ project. It is where we are gaining a better understanding of regenerative agricultural practices and their impact, costs and benefits, and where we are working with our farm partners to reimagine the way we grow a potato that is better for both their farm and the planet.”
Challenges and opportunities
According to Krishna, the biggest opportunity for McCain in India is the low household penetration of the frozen snacks category. Frozen snacks are still a new concept for Indian consumers who have not yet seen a reason to consume the category. He said, “We at McCain will address the key barriers of availability, affordability, and relevance to increase our household penetration in coming years. We will continue to invest in increasing distribution and expanding cold chain infrastructure in addition to innovation and advertising in the coming years.”
The frozen food market is expected to grow in high double digits over the next ten years with increased urbanization, the nuclearization of families, and an increase in disposable income as more and more women step out to work. In his view, McCain, being the leader, is at the forefront of gaining the maximum out of this growth cycle and is prepared to invest in getting the maximum share in this period. “In the next few months, you will see us coming with exciting product launches. In September, we plan to bring Cheese Pizza Fingers with pizza flavor-inspired seasoning,” he concluded.