Desi Snacks Ready to Con­quer the World

The Economic Times - - Front Page -

Mum­bai | New Delhi: Aloo pa­pad at a lo­cal store in Mum­bai’s western sub­urb of Bori­vali — just stacked, no pack­ag­ing, or any par­tic­u­lar con­cern for hy­giene. A branded, hy­gien­i­cally packed op­tion, from Mother’s Recipe, is dou­ble the price and comes in many flavours. But the branded aloo pa­pad still doesn’t com­mand the price of pack­aged, branded potato wafers.

For ex­am­ple, Lay’s potato wafers from Pep­siCo, the mar­ket leader in In­dia in ‘Western’ snacks, is priced roughly 10% higher than a packet of aloo pa­pad of sim­i­lar size. Mar­keters say this can change, that mi­cro in­no­va­tion can make desi snacks com­mand price com­pa­ra­ble to ‘Western’ va­ri­eties.

To be sure, desi va­ri­eties are mak­ing big in­roads. Dosa masala burg­ers, jal­jeera and aam panna drinks, masala oats — these are just a few prod­ucts in port­fo­lios of snack-mak­ers, even the multi­na­tional ones.

“The po­ten­tial for desi snacks is lim­it­less… com­pa­nies are grad­u­ally con­vert­ing prod­ucts that are tra­di­tion­ally eaten at home to some­thing that are con­sumed on the go,” said B Kr­ishna Rao, deputy mar­ket­ing man­ager at Parle Prod­ucts. Parle ex­pects In­dian snacks to over­take ‘Western’ ones in the next 2-3 years. Mar­keters also say con­sumers are cor­re­lat­ing healthy food with some­thing in­her­ently In­dian and are start­ing to favour munchies that use in­gre­di­ents com­mon in In­dian kitchens. “We be­gan our com­pany by sell­ing desi farsan nearly three decades ago, but con­sumers grad­u­ally moved to prod­ucts such as wafers. Now, they still want chips but with In­dian masala,” said Chandu Vi­rani, pro­moter of Balaji Wafers, a ₹ 1,440-crore com­pany. “Con­sumers are re­ward­ing brands that in­no­vate in flavours, form or de­liv­ery,” said Deven­dra Chawla, CEO at Fu­ture Con­sumer.

San­jana De­sai, head of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment at Mother’s Recipe’s agreed. Con­sumers “un­der­stand” the pre­mium they have to pay since in­no­vated prod­ucts re­quire an ad­di­tional ef­fort, she said.

Fu­ture Con­sumer is launch­ing tra­di­tional aloo bhu­jia in peri peri, wasabi and schezwan flavours and pric­ing it 30% higher than ri­val prod­ucts. Same is the case with Ket­tle Stu­dio Chips, a prod­uct that isn’t pro­cessed at con­veyor belts but is made in a desi style by fry­ing them in a pot and which costs dou­ble the price of potato wafers.

The Fu­ture Group also plans to launch may­on­naise with desi flavours such as co­rian­der and pu­d­ina, smoky tikka and mus­tard. Chawla said that the desi snacks mar­ket has the po­ten­tial of be­ing twice the size of ‘Western’ one that is worth ₹ 15,000 crore.

Paper Boat led the re­vival of pack­aged eth­nic drinks, a move that forced cat­e­gory lead­ers

such as Dabur’s Real and Pep­siCo’s Trop­i­cana to also launch flavours such as co­conut wa­ter, jal­jeera and mosambi. Now, Paper Boat will en­ter the tra­di­tional snacks cat­e­gory. “The fo­cus will be on eth­nic snacks. We be­lieve there is a la­tent de­mand for hy­gien­i­cally pack­aged, branded eth­nic snacks,” said co-founder Neeraj Kakkar of Hec­tor Bev­er­ages, which owns the Paper Boat brand. These and other munchies makeover will come on top of ear­lier ex­per­i­ments, many of them suc­cess­ful — Nes­tle’s Maggi, Pepsi’s Le­har and ITC’s Kurkure have a com­bined busi­ness of a bil­lion dol­lar in In­dian snacks. But there’s plenty of room to grow in the $35-bil­lion food mar­ket.

Sa­gar Malviya & Ratna Bhushan

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