ITC Ltd has planned multiple projects with an outlay of Rs 25,000 crore over the next five years, chairman and CEO Y C Deveshwar told shareholders on Friday. “Unfortunately the weak cold-chain infrastructure and the virtual absence of well-established end-to-end players impede the growth of processed food industry, more so in the case of perishables where it is most needed.” “It is for this reason that your company is exploring the opportunity to invest in a state-of-the-art cold chain to cover farm produce, including fresh, frozen and dehydrated fruits and vegetables,” he said at the company’s 105th annual general meeting. Mr Deveshwar said he advocates a synergy of superior agri-sourcing and culinary expertise. “Such synergy is expected to infuse competitiveness to your company’s Sunbean brand of premium coffee that is due to be launched shortly,” he said, adding that the company has engaged with farmers to implement an integrated farm management programme to grow high quality super safe spices. “A new range of such spices, tested for as many as 450 contaminatants at par with European standards, in comparison to only 10 in the domestic market, will be available shortly for the Indian health-conscious consumer,” he said. According to him, the company is investing substantially in physical infrastructure assets close to markets to reduce wastage from multiple handling and transportation by co-locating manufacturing and distribution facilities. Around 20 modern integrated consumer goods manufacturing and logistic facilities are under development, he said. Of the two manufacturing plants in Bengal, one will be operational in September and other will be in the early next year, he said. ITC, India’s largest tobacco firm, also makes a host of non-tobacco FMCG products. The company aspires to be No 1 player in the non-cigarette FMCG business and set a revenue target of Rs 1,00,000 crore by 2030. Mr Deveshwar said that although he hoped to continue to address the shareholders in the coming years as chairman of the company, it was the last time he was addressing them in the joint capacity of chairman and CEO. He said the company would take on domestic FMCG firms like Patanjali and Amul. “Patanjali has built Indian brands. I am happy. We should be glad whenever an Indian brand is created. But we will also compete,” he added. ITC Ltd reported that its standalone net profit rose 10 per cent to Rs 2,384.67 crore for the quarter ended June 30, 2016 as compared to Rs 2,166.09 crore for the corresponding quarter last year. ITC shares on Friday closed 0.44 per cent lower at Rs. 249.55 apiece on the BSE, whose benchmark Sensex index finished up 0.33 per cent.
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