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Ajinomoto looks to stir up India with instant coffee

Japanese group continues expansion into thirsty Asian markets

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Southern India is home to a deep-rooted coffee culture, but Ajinomoto has nationwide ambitions.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- One of Japan's best-known brands of instant coffee arrives this month in India, a market in which Japanese food company Ajinomoto reckons it has a chance of rising to the top.

Sales of Blendy will kick off in mid-August in the state of Tamil Nadu in southern India, where the country's coffee culture is most deeply rooted. Single-serving packets of the coffee will be strung up on storefronts, priced at around 10 rupees (16 cents) each. 

Ajinomoto plans to gradually expand sales of Blendy to other parts of India, its sixth market for instant coffee but the first overseas location for the brand. 

Faced with few rival makers of powdered drinks in India, Ajinomoto thinks it will need to create the market as it goes along. It also plans to sell instant tea there under the Blendy brand.

Blendy's reach was limited to the Japanese market until last year, when Ajinomoto acquired the brand rights from Dutch coffee and tea group Jacobs Douwe Egberts.

The Japanese food company also plans to expand its lineup of Birdy instant coffee in five countries including Thailand and Vietnam. Ajinomoto will spend about 2.5 billion yen ($22.7 million) next year to build a factory in Myanmar, where it will start sales of powered drinks.

The company's move into the Asian powdered coffee market is part of a diversification strategy. Ajinomoto has built up a presence in the region with its seasonings, which include little red shakers of MSG, but seeks to expand its earnings base further. It aims to boost overseas food product sales by one-fifth from fiscal 2016 to 527.4 billion yen in fiscal 2019.

(Nikkei)

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