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Amrit Agro exits ethnic snacks biz

P.T.Jyothi Datta

NEW DELHI, Dec. 20

THE former parent of hugely successful Uncle Chipps potato chips, Amrit Agro Industries Ltd, (AAIL) has exited its traditional snacks business.

Following the sale of Uncle Chipps to Pepsico's snacks arm, Frito Lays - AAIL, the erstwhile Uncle Chipps Co. Ltd, has stopped production of its `Yumkeenz' brand of traditional namkeens, due to intense competition from the domestic unorganised snacks segment.

The decision to exit the traditional snacks business comes almost a year after AAIL, or the then Uncle Chipps Co, had sold its immensely popular chips brand to Pepsi's snacks division, Frito Lays, in late 2000.

Confirming the development Mr Ashwini Bajaj, Joint Managing Director, Amrit Banaspati Co. Ltd, told Business Line that Amrit Agro, an Amrit group company, had exited the traditional namkeens business earlier this year, due to the competitive unorganised sector.

The capital-intensive snacks business was not yielding returns due to the unorganised sector which accounts for 90 per cent of the chips segment and about 75 per cent of the traditional snacks segment, he pointed out.

"The snacks business was about Rs 3 crore, when we exited," he said.

`Yumkeenz' comprised seven variants of snacks including Pudina aloo bhujia, Bikaner aloo bhujia, Masala aloo bhujia, Khatta meetha mixture, Moong dal, roasted peanut and Mungfali masala mazedar.

Amrit Agro has its manufacturing unit for traditional snacks at Noida and Mr Bajaj pointed out that the company would sell its machinery and re-orient itself to get into the agro-procurement or processing business.

"The company and personnel will remain with us and we will continue to be in the agro sector, only, we will redefine our activity.

At present we are studying the prospects for the storage and transportation of fruits and vegetables and may be even simple processing."

According to food-processing industry estimates, up to 40 per cent of fruits and vegetables are wasted in the country due to bad storage and treatment facilities.

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