Seven months have passed since the launch of Vibrant Gujarat 2005 but no major oral care products company has come forward with even an expression of interest to invest in the earthquake-hit Kutch region’s proposed herbal toothpaste and tooth powder manufacturing project.
The total oral care products market size was worth several thousand crores in India and had been growing at 8 to10 per cent every year.The proposed project was offered as an opportunity to all the oral care product manufacturers.
The state government expected big companies to come forward but none have done so.
"The big companies will come only when they feel it will be beneficial for them and before investing on such a project, they will take time to decide”, state government officials admitted. The government was hopeful that in view of the huge growing market in the country, companies would show interest in the project, a state government official told Business Standard.
A senior official of Hindusthan Lever Ltd (HLL) said, "Looking at widely used consumer products with fast growing market in urban, semi-urban as well as rural areas, the proposed project no doubt will help manufacturers".
The project offered opportunity for good value addition and the unit could be located near urban and semi-urban areas.This would place it near its market and also ensure availability of skilled manpower. "But before such an investment we have to look several factors," said the HLL official.
Oral care products include toothpaste, tooth powder and mouthwash liquids and related products. In the last one decade, awareness about usefulness of various Indian herbs and the feasibility of the use of knowledge from the traditional Indian medicine system of ayurveda had grown rapidly.
Many companies started producing and marketing ayurveda-based products to gain market share.Use of knowledge from traditional Indian medicine systems in formulation of the products was dependent on availability of products from nature.The products have gained widepread acceptance among the masses in India as well as in foreign countries owing to their use of herbal and non-chemical, natural products .
According to officials, Kutch was felt to a suitable region in view of thenature of project and also because the excellent incentives that could be offered under the policy of the Gujarat government.The incentives were part of the special package for the earthquake affected area. Under the new policy for earthquake relief, excise exemption was offered to the 16 per cent compared to other areas.
The unit in Kutch would also receive help to get raw materials, stategovernment officials said.
"The main raw material required for the manufacture of toothpaste andtooth powder were calcium salts such as calcium carbonate, calciumsulphate-aluminum silicate, dicalcium phosphated dehydrate and sodium layryl sulphate and vegetable oil-based soap chips which were easily availablein the region and would help manufacturers in Kutch," the officials claimed.
At present, the major players in the segment included Colgate, HindustanLever and Dabur India.
There are several medium-scale companies with good market share like Vicco Laboratories, Balsara Hygiene Products and Choice.
Colgate and Hindustan Lever between them had nearly 84 per cent market share but their products were non-herbal in nature.The rest of the manufacturers accounted for the rest of the market.
Sumantra Das / Gandhidham August 24, 2005