The half century old government condom brand, Nirodh is about to get a facelift. The brand, which is a black sheep in the male contraceptive market, will try to attract customers with beautiful models on its wrappers.
The condom, which till now has come in prosaic white and wordy wrappings, has fallen out of favor with people despite the fact that the government gives 65 million condoms free of cost as a part of its safe sex campaign.
Apart from the unromantic packing, the quality of the contraceptive is also not rated high by the users. All this is making the government brand lose out on the mammoth market of contraceptives in India which was worth 152 million in 2011 according to market gurus.
The government has decided to make the wrappings more colorful, with pictures of couples instead of long cautionary messages. But the government, at the same time, feels that the wrappings have to be attractive but not erotic.
It was this day exactly five decades back that the erstwhile Hindustan Latex Ltd, now known as the state-run HLL Lifecare Ltd, produced the first condom in the country at its factory near here.
As it celebrates its golden jubilee, condom production at HLL Lifecare has crossed two billion pieces, matching global standards, and it is the only company in the world which is a one-stop shop offering everything in birth control solutions.
Over the years, this company has come to be referred to as the “safest” companion of many a bedroom and has taken the ‘pleasure’ business to new heights, through innovations and new products.
The company’s flagship brand “Moods” comes in more than 19 variants and the marketing portfolio of the company currently has more than 70 brands in its kitty.
A peep into the history of the company shows that the Central government set up its National Family Planning program in the 1950s.
With condoms, then, being mainly imported and heavily priced, their availability at low cost to the common man turned out to be vital for the success of the governmenta’s “Small Family Happy Family” campaign.
In the 1960s, the Centre decided to start a company for the manufacture of condoms at affordable rates in Kerala where rubber is the principle cash crop. On March 1, 1966, Hindustan Latex Ltd was incorporated as an undertaking under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
The foundation stone for the first manufacturing plant, with a production capacity of 144 million pieces, was laid at Peroorkada, near here on th January, 14, 1967.
Thereafter, on this very day in 1969, commercial production began with the technical collaboration of Okamoto Industries of Japan.
The year 1976 witnessed the first phase of development with an increase in the production capacity to 288 million pieces a year.
Later, to meet the growing need of condoms for the national family planning programme, the company expanded its production units here and at Belgaum in Karnataka in 1985.
In the 1990s, the company diversified into various other products and services and the dream goal of becoming a Rs 1,000-crore company was successfully accomplished when HLL notched up business worth Rs 1,296 crore in 2010.
Through this long journey, HLL has floated seven institutions, besides foraying into Research and Development and has a opened 60,000 sq ft state-of-the-art R&D centre here. (IANS)