Indian brands give multinationals a run for their money

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock

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Homegrown brands dominated over their foreign counterparts in India’s fast-growing Rs2.5tr (US$38.2bn) packaged food market last year. 

According to Euromonitor International, the top domestic brands, led by dairy co-operative Amul, gave established multinationals like Mondelēz, Nestlé and PepsiCo—the only three in the data analyst’s top 10—a run for their money by showing a better ability to penetrate rural India and target lower price-points.

Domestic manufacturers… dominated packaged food in 2015, whereas international players still have to understand the dynamics of the Indian consumer mindset​,” the report said. They have also proved adept at selling products in a range of sizes to give consumers more options.

Amul​—formally known as the Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation—has maintained its position at the top of India’s packaged foods market with a 7.2% retail share and turnover worth Rs230bn (US$3.4bn) over the last financial year—an increase of 11% since 2014/15.

The company has stuck to its focus of following an umbrella branding strategy with minimal spend on marketing and celebrity associations, according to its managing director, RS Sodhi, adding: “We don’t waste assets on building and maintaining too many brands​.”

Euromonitor has placed a competing brand, Mother Dairy​ with a retail market share of 3.7%, in second place, reflecting the company’s renewed focus on deeper localisation of its products. Recently, it has concentrated on regional tastes with the launch of palm jiggery ice cream in Kolkata, where the flavour has been traditionally supplied only by local companies.

India’s biggest milk supplier, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the National Dairy Development Board, is now hoping to achieve Rs100bn (US$1.5bn) turnover over the next three years due to rising Indian demand for dairy products. 

Having diversified its portfolio to include edible oil, pulses, fruits and vegetables, it is keen to tap into growing new markets under brand names including Safal and Dhara.

India’s market leader in baked goods, Britannia​, comes third with more than Rs85bn in revenues and a share of 3.6% of the retail market. It has over the last year set out to consolidate its position as one of India’s top food companies by launching more innovative products and boosting its health and wellness lines.

Reflecting this health drive, it has broadcast its claim to be the first zero trans fat baker in India and boasts a product line that is heavily enriched with micronutrients.

According to Euromonitor, Britannia has plans to concentrate on increased distribution in rural areas in order to maintain its leadership in bakery, especially in biscuits category.

Ruchi Soya Industries​, one of India’s biggest edible oil manufacturers and its largest exporter of soya meal and lecithin, was awarded fourth place in the Euromonitor list with a 3.6% share of the retail market. 

Over the last three decades, it has emerged as an integrated player with secured access to oil palm plantations in India and elsewhere and exclusive oil procurement rights across India.

More recently, Ruchi has shown strong performance in the packaged food category where it has managed to achieve double-digit volume growth with brands including Nutrela, Mahakosh, Sunrich, Ruchi Gold, fuelled largely by a focus on continuous expansion into new segments. 

Over the last three years our performance has been very good in the packaged food category where we have achieved double-digit volume growth​,” says Satendra Aggarwal, Ruchi’s chief executive. 

We expect this high growth rate to continue in future as well. By 2020, we are confident that we will be the second largest packaged food company in the country.​”

In fifth place, with a retail market share of 3.2%, Parle​ is one of India’s biggest manufacturers of biscuits and confectionery with many of its lines being leaders in their categories—indeed, Parle G claims to be the best selling biscuit in the world.

Elsewhere, Swiss giant Nestlé found its market share had dipped from 4.2% in 2014 to 2.9% taking it down to seventh spot, largely due to a ban on its popular instant noodles brand Maggi. 

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