By Utpal Borpujari
Seoul (South Korea): From chapatis of north India to coconut chutney of south India, you would in the near future be able to prepare a whole range of traditional Indian food on your microwave.
South Korean home appliances giant LG Electronics’ Gasan R&D centre here is working in tandem with its Indian counterpart in Greater Noida neighbouring Delhi to make its microwaves enabled to cook a large number of traditional Indian dishes from all parts of the country, which could incluce even the famous “litti” from Bihar.
LGE, which already has mircowaves with an “Indian Rasoi” feature that helps cook some popular Indian dishes, is undertaking this major R&D exercise as part of its strategy to enter more Indian homes for quite obvious reasons – India is emerging as its largest market globally and it wants to consolidate that position.
And even as it is developing these “India-ready” microwaves, it is also planning to aggressively take up its “Health+” campaign that promises not only traditional tastes in microwave cooking using only one-fourth of oil that Indian kitchens normally use, but also other healthy products such as washing machines that claim to kill all germs and remove all allergens, refrigerators that release Vitamic C inside to keep vegetables and fruits fresh for a longer period and air conditioners that eliminates microbes 100 per cent.
The company, to do all this and more, is pumping in up to Rs 400 crore this year to upgrade its production facilities in India, around 75 per cent of which will be earmarked for the Pune plant, the rest going to its Greater Noida plant. This is apart from Rs 50 crore to be spent for advertising and marketing home appliances.
The India thrust, says LGE president and CEO Young-ha Lee, comes from the fact that the company is planning to make India an export hub for Europe and Central Asian markets, in addition to already catering to the Gulf region, Nepal and Bhutan.
“Our plan is to grow LG India’s revenues to Rs 17,000 crore by this year end, which means a 30 per cent growth over the Rs 13,089 crore turnover of 2009,” says Lee.
LGE India Pvt Ltd’s business head (home appliances) Rajeev Jain, who says the “chapati-making” microwave will be launched “soon”, indicates that the company is expecting a significant part of its revenues to come from its “healthy” products, which are being promoted through the “Health+” campaign, considering that upwardly-mobile Indians are increasingly getting ready to spend a little more to live healthy.
“We see many Indians spending thousands in a gym membership to burn a few calories. We are sure that segment will not hesitate to spend 8-10 per cent more for our home appliances that guarantees a healthier life and a cleaner environment,” says Jain, adding that a new range of refrigerators, equipped with LG’s patented linear compressors that saves up to 18 per cent energy, is less noisy, would also be introduced in India by July end.