‘Democratising high quality’: India’s Britannia Industries ramps up international focus with first export-oriented factory
The factory was launched last year in the Western Indian state of Gujarat, and is the product of INR160bn (US$22.9mn) worth of investment, according to Britannia Industries’ CEO of International Business Annu Gupta.
“The factory is the first facility that is 100% export-oriented – this means that not one single biscuit from there will be sold in India,” Gupta told FoodNavigator-Asia.
Outside of India, Britannia sees Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, the UAE, Nepal and Saudi Arabia as some of its most important markets, in addition to the United States and Canada.
“South East Asia has also been identified as one of the focus geographies for Britannia over the coming three years, and this significant capability enhancement [will certainly benefit this region].”
Major South East Asian markets for Britannia include Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia and most recently Myanmar.
Apart from the factory in Gujarat, the company also established local manufacturing facilities for some of its major markets, such as Nepal in April this year with the idea of directly supplying to the country and its adjoining regions.
“[The idea here] is that we must be far more locally available, especially in large markets [for Britannia], and this is a way to expand our presence in these markets,” said Gupta.
“We also see that there are some good locations in South East Asia, such as in Indonesia, Malaysia and Myanmar, but we will wait will we achieve critical mass in the region before taking the next step.”
Global and total foods company
Gupta added that Britannia CEO Varun Berry has placed much emphasis on developing the company to be a ‘truly global and total foods company’ since he took on the mantle in 2014.
“To be global means to expand our presence worldwide, and we’re looking that setting up more hubs to do that especially in South East Asia and Africa,” he said.
“As for becoming a total foods company, this means that we are looking at expanding our presence into other categories and segments out of bakery, for example into macro-snacking like wafers and into value-added dairy.”
Another overarching goal for the company is to provide ‘world-class products at the best value’, by using the ‘best ingredients from the best locations’ via secret recipes formulated over many years.
“Britannia has literally democratized the whole concept of high-quality products at affordable prices, making it possible for every average person in every level of society to afford our products and providing good value for money,” added Gupta.
In response to queries about the major challenges that the company has faced so far in its 101 years of history, Gupta highlighted dealing with counterfeits and imitation products as one of the major issues he has had to deal with.
“We have seen the copying, duplication and imitation of not so conscientious parties happen many times, and the way we deal with this challenge is to overcome this competition with further innovation to provide the best value,” he said.
“We see these more as a catalyst to not only improve and do better, but also to learn how to become more efficient.”
In terms of sales volume and market share, it appears that this has paid off for Britannia – the company gained some 5% market share or 600 business points over the last six years in India despite the ‘spurious activities’ by counterfeiters, and Gupta is confident that this will continue to grow
Trends and innovations
In terms of innovation, Britannia houses its own in-house research centre complete with scientists and food technologists to make sure innovation is fast-paced.
“From the bakery space to health, chocolate, salty snacks, dairy and more, we are looking at innovation and NPD in all of these areas,” said Gupta.
“One of the key factors we are careful to pay attention is to make products ‘healthy yet tasty’, making sure that the excitement factor associated with our branding is not lost.
“The other is localisation – it is very important to cater to the local tastebuds of consumers in different geographies, and [because we are in over 79 countries worldwide, we need to be careful about this too.”
With regard to adapting to the healthy product trend, Gupta told us that Britannia is set to roll out norms with regard to sugar and salt reduction in the near future.
“This will be done in phases, and we will try to reduce by 5% in each phase. We are working with food safety authorities in India and the Gulf region to do this, and it will proceed through a calibrated approach,” he added.
A major goal for Britannia this year is to improve on the growth rate it has seen across the last five to seven years, and make sure this growth is sustainable.
Although Gupta remained coy on the actual targets, the company’s 2017-2018 Annual General Meeting report stated that consolidated revenue growth in 2018 stood at 9.7%, and consolidated profit growth in 2018 stood at 13.5%.