NIIGATA, Japan -- Rice cracker manufacturer Kameda Seika is betting that Indians have a healthy appetite for its popular snack. It plans to start local production of its Kaki-no-Tane, a mix of flavored rice crackers and peanuts, in June.
The investment amount and production capacity of the new operation are unclear. Kameda is the first Japanese rice cracker maker to jump into India's huge market. In 2017 it established a joint venture with local giant LT Foods in the northern state of Haryana.
Until now, Kameda has imported its rice crackers into India from its plant in China. It will switch to local production when its new factory is up and running. India will be Kameda's sixth overseas production base, along with the U.S., Thailand and Cambodia.
The new plant will produce an Indian version of Kaki-no-Tane under the Kari Kari brand. The company has shipped wasabi and chili garlic flavored crackers to India since 2017. They come in two sizes -- a 70 gram pack at 50 rupees (72 cents) and a 150 gram pack at 99 rupees.
Test marketing in Delhi and other cities showed there was more demand for the snacks than expected, particularly among the wealthy.
India's population is expected to continue growing for some time, so there will be no shortage of potential consumers. Kameda decided to start producing locally, betting that it will be more profitable than importing from China.
The company will also enhance its product lineup in Vietnam, where it started selling fried rice crackers in 2014.