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Monday, Nov 29, 2021
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foods

A Slice Of Pizzazz

Domino's watch out. Amul gives Indians the cheap pizza option.

A Slice Of Pizzazz
Gireesh G.V
A Slice Of Pizzazz
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

What happens when the country's best-known cheese-maker puts its hand in pizza-making? And that too at an unbelievable price?

Last fortnight, Amul launched its own brand of pizzas at a price most people look at with suspicion. The six-inch pizzas are priced at Rs 20. The cheapest offering in the market is a good Rs 50 more than this. As expected, the markets have gone into a frenzy and people have flocked to the outlets to taste its flavour.

But why pizza? Company officials say for a company with 75 per cent and 95 per cent marketshare in processed cheddar and mozzarella cheese respectively, getting into pizza and other cheese-based fast foods was but natural. Says Dr R.S. Khanna, agm, Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (gcmmf), the holding company of Amul: "We want to demystify the pizza. mncs have created such an aura around the product that today no one is ready to believe that you can actually get a good—if not better—product at a fraction of their price."

The company claims that even at the Rs 20 starting level, there is a cool profit of 100 per cent per pizza. Of course, Amul has the advantage of being the largest manufacturer of cheese in the country and has Mother Dairy and Safal as sister concerns for raw material supply.

Amul's tryst with this Italian delicacy started when the bosses at gcmmf decided to experiment with pizzas by selling them through Amul outlets in Anand in Gujarat, followed by semi-urban areas of Surat, Baroda and Ahmedabad. The success was unprecedented and prompted the company to carry it on a national scale.

The first Amul pizza outlet was opened in Ahmedabad on July 12 where the franchisee owner was asked to invest a mere Rs 5,000 on an oven. Within a few hours, the outlet had to lay eight ovens to meet the demand. By the end of the day, it sold an unbelievable 1,500 pizzas. Three days later, on Sunday, this increased to 1,800 and in less than 15 days, the number of outlets in the state increased to 50.

The frenzy is not restricted to Gujarat alone. Within days of announcing its plans in Delhi, the queues of franchisee licence seekers at gcmmf's Delhi office have only got longer. In 10 days, 18 outlets have come up. Another 10 are coming up even as the story goes to the press. Two hundred more applications for franchisees are pending. Most of them are likely to be obliged.

The company has set ambitious targets. Says Khanna: "We will set up 3,000 outlets in the country within a year with a target of selling an average of 100 pizzas each a day." That's a cool three-lakh pizzas a day, much more than any of the other pizza manufacturers.

To bring in a swadeshi flavour to the pizzas, the company is providing all franchisees with a pizza recipe book prepared inhouse for this purpose. Says Khanna: "We have trained households to prepare pizzas with the simplest of ingredients and equipment. And the product is at par with any other offering in the market." Company-trained pizza consultants are also being sent for supervision.

To start with, the fare is quite simple—the standard onion-capsicum-tomato pizzas on a six-inch base. Soon, the outlets would offer larger, eight-inch and 12-inch pizzas in 20 different varieties—both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. There's something for pure veggies too—a "Jain pizza" which will have nothing to do with the carnivore variety.

As of now, Amul is supplying the mozzarella cheese for the pizzas and outsourcing the vegetables and pizza base, but the company is finalising arrangements with bakeries and vendors for a dedicated supply of special grade raw materials.

For Amul, the pizza is just the beginning of a larger gameplan. After the outlets stabilise with pizzas, it wants to introduce burgers and other fast foods with an ultimate aim of starting exclusive Amul food parlours to sell a range of desi fast foods apart from Amul's range of milk and cheese products and ice cream. The company plans to introduce flavoured milk in Tetrapaks and Rs 5 ice cream cones soon.

Interestingly, gcmmf's associate in Delhi, Mother Dairy, too started fast food parlours in the city earlier this year. The project, however, did not go beyond a couple of such parlours.

This is the first time an Indian company has decided to give mncs a challenge on their own turf. Experts say that coming from a name like Amul, the product is a sure success and will lead to others dropping prices. And when consumers stand to gain from the entire exercise, no one is complaining.

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