In Conversation With Prashant Parameswaran, MD & CEO, Tata Consumer Soulfull On National Nutrition Week, 2021

National Nutrition Week synergizes well with Tata Soulfull’s purpose to make ancient grains relevant to the modern consumer and enabling a healthier lifestyle.

1. Can you speak about the journey of Tata Soulfull since the inception?

Tata Soulfull’s core brand purpose is to make ancient grains relevant to the modern consumer. The Soulfull brand was launched in 2013. The product range is focused on the Health and Wellness food segment with a portfolio of millet-based products for kids and adults. In February 2021, Tata Consumer Soulfull Pvt Ltd. became a 100% subsidiary of Tata Consumer Products. With rich expertise in ancient millets like ragi (finger millet), Tata Consumer Soulfull has an innovative portfolio of products such as breakfast cereals, healthy snacks, muesli, and plant-based protein drinks.

Recently, the brand name ‘Tata’ has been integrated with the product branding, this brings the power of the Tata brand to the Soulfull portfolio and will further enhance its credentials and brand positioning. The ‘Tata Soulfull’ logo will now be integrated into all touchpoints for the brand across online platforms, marketing collaterals and packaging. We are gearing up to take Tata Soulfull to the next level, considering the growth opportunities in the segment.

2. How has Covid impacted the healthy cereal & snacking segment?

Post the pandemic, there has been an acceleration in certain consumer trends such as health & wellness and convenience. We have witnessed a spike in products that offer health & wellness, and immunity benefits. This trend will continue to stay as more people are understanding the importance of building immunity brought by lifestyle changes. There have been various reports that have shown the health benefits of consuming millets and why they have always been an integral part of the Indian diet. Tata Soulfull is bringing these ancient grains which are an integral part of our heritage, back to the consumers’ plate in more suitable and convenient forms. Our entire product range, be it snacking, breakfast cereal, or beverages, is actually able to bring this to life.

3. Highlight a few recent consumer trends in the millets segment

Tata Soulfull products are targeted at convenience-seeking and health-conscious consumers who are seeking food options that fit in with their lifestyle. There are many recent consumer trends which are driving millet consumption in India currently. The increasing urbanization levels have led to changes in food consumption & lifestyle habits among consumers. Modern consumers have now become increasingly fitness-savvy and want to focus on health and wellness, especially in the current context. But the key is to offer them healthy offerings like millets through products that they can easily integrate into ther lifestyles. Also the rise in disposable income and acceleration of e-commerce is enabling consumers to experiment with their food choices while opting for healthy food offerings.

4. Soulfull was recently acquired by TCP. How has growth for the brand been since the acquisition?

The TCP acquisition has not only enhanced the brand’s credentials with consumers but has also provided us a great opportunity to spread the goodness of millets by making them more mainstream. The integration with TCP is now complete and will augment our front end and back end capabilities and our innovation pipeline.

For eg., we have scaled up our reach from 15000 to 50000 outlets and will be scaling this up further. Tata Consumer Products currently has a reach of around 2.4 Million outlets, so the sheer distribution muscle will give the brand substantial growth.

We have now begun integrating the Tata logo with the Soulfull brand. The ‘Tata Soulfull’ logo will be integrated into all touchpoints for the brand across online platforms, marketing collaterals and packaging. This will enhance the brand’s credibility and make it more accessible and mainstream while retaining its vibrancy.

5. Any new products that you have recently launched (or) planning to launch?

We will be accelerating our focus on innovation. We will track consumer trends closely and make sure we offer consumers products that meet their lifestyle needs in a healthy manner.

6. We are currently celebrating National Nutrition Week. How is Soulfull taking the lead to promote millets and how significant is the event from the perspective of a brand like yours?

National Nutrition Week is observed to raise public awareness about nutrition and healthy eating habits. This synergizes well with Tata Soulfull’s purpose is to make ancient grains relevant to the modern consumer which involves spreading awareness on their health benefits and how they can enable a healthy lifestyle. It is well known that millets come with a number of key health benefits. Apart from being sustainable and highly nutritive; (they are 3-5 times nutritionally superior to rice and wheat), their high fibre content and low glycaemic index offer a number of health benefits.

We believe millets will evolve to become a mainstream category. One way of making millets more attractive to consumers is to innovate products that incorporate them smartly without compromising on the taste and nutritional benefits. As more and more people start seeing products that are a fit with their preferences and blend well into their lifestyle, there will be a more widespread acceptance for these grains. That is where brands like Tata Soulfull come in, that are able to offer value both from a nutritional and taste & convenience standpoint.

7. How is Soulfull reinventing millets to suit current demands, especially children who prefer junk food to healthier alternatives?

Tata Soulfull’s products are primarily targeted at convenience-seeking and health-conscious consumers who are seeking food options that fit in with their lifestyle. To get children to prefer healthier alternatives, product formats, taste and brand communication are important elements. We have been able to integrate millets into tasty and healthy products such as Ragi Flakes, Ragi Bites, Millet Muesli and Smoothix. We recently launched #TheGoodBites Campaign with actress Sameera Reddy which speaks of the health benefits as well as the delicious taste of Tata Soulfull Ragi bites.

8. Can you speak about your marketing strategy and plans to reach a larger customer base?

The integration with Tata Consumer Products will help us reach a much larger customer base and make millets more mainstream. We will be rapidly scaling up our reach and this will help us make our products available to many more consumers.

Like any new-age brand, we plan to have a strong focus on digital and leveraging e-commerce platforms. As omnichannel is swiftly becoming the new norm, we will continue to focus on this capability to strengthen our business. Currently, our products are available on ecommerce platforms like Flipkart, Amazon, and BigBasket. Our own D2C platform has been gaining a lot of traction which enables us to engage with consumers directly and provides for extremely insightful brand conversations. This provides a great opportunity to keep freshness of communication and more topical conversations which the Tata Soulfull consumer is seeking.

Alongwith this, we will continue to invest in targeted brand communication campaigns like our recent #TheGoodBites campaign for Tata Soulfull Ragi Bites which speaks of the health + taste benefits of the product and why it’s a favourite with both moms and kids.

9. Please comment on any initiative by the Indian government to support millets production in the R&D era

Government and regulatory bodies have been coming up with initiatives that are leading to an increased millets consumption, which has grown over the last five to ten years. This is welcome especially considering India is one of the largest producers of millets. Such initiatives will help sustainability goals and the food security agenda as well.

10. What does the UN’s declaration of 2023 as ‘International Year of Millets’ mean for farmers and suppliers?

The UN’s resolution of declaring 2023 as ‘International Year of Millets’ is a great initiative to raise awareness on the health and sustainability benefits of millets. This will further contribute to food security, and ensure livelihoods of farmers and suppliers in regions threatened by drought and climate change. As has been the case with other commodities, whenever there is an international year, it brings such food products to the forefront and elevates it on a global landscape. The international year of millets allows farmers, suppliers and the entire ecosystem to work towards making achieving this common agenda and make millets more mainstream.

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