Indian Food Goes Global
Mr.R.Krishnan, president of South Indian Foods Limited (SIFL), was deep in thought in his office at corporate headquarters in Coimbatore, India. Eleven years earlier he had founded SIFL with the help of his wife, Maya. Now, after returning from a weeklong business trip to the United States, Mr.Krishnan was pondering the future of his company. Should SIFL enter foreign markets? If so, which ones? SIFL began as a company selling only three items but had quickly expanded to a dozen products. It produced and marketed batters, pastes, and flours that formed the ingredients of traditional South Indian Cooking. For example, its Maami’s Tamarind Mix consisted of mustard, ground nuts, asafetida, curry leaves, coriander powder, and dried chilies fried in oil and then combined with tamarind extract, salt turmeric, and vinegar. The mix was next bottled and vacuum-sealed to preserve the traditional home made flavor and aroma of tamarind mix. The company began to market its products in and around Coimbatore. Soon, however, new production units were established in Bangalore and Madras to serve the whole south Indian market. Then three more manufacturing units were established in the states of Maharashtra, Adhara Pradesh, and West Bengal. SIFL estimated that its share of market varied between 19 and 27 percent across its product categories in the territories where it competed. Recently, new competitors had entered the market. Their market shares were slightly lower than those of SIFL. In response to increased competition, however, SIFL attempted to avoid adding new product lines that might have to compete head-on with aggressive competitors. SIFL attributed part of its success to its promotional efforts. It used advertising campaigns in local radio and newspapers. Handbills, printed in the local language of the different Indian staes, were distributed in newspaper in selected cities. The company also offered sample packets of its batter products. All...
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