Parle is already a major household name for biscuits in India, best-known for its Parle-G range which targets the mass market with a focus on providing value for money.
Over in the Middle East though, Parle believes that the market demographics are now favorable for premium biscuit brand Platina which comprises several different ranges of products, in addition to its more mainstream brands.
“Many local consumers in the GCC are showing a preference for premium brands like Platina, and there is no doubt that they have more of the spending power here in order to go for more premium items,” Parle International Business Vice President HS Sareen told FoodNavigator-Asia at the recent Gulfood 2023 show.
“Coupling this with the sizeable market available here, this is a very good market for premium products with higher-value ingredients used for the chocolate, the cream, the wheat and so on as this is what they will look for.
“There is also of course a higher demand for healthier segments like gluten-free as well, but from what we are seeing in the biscuits segment here, these are still considered more of a niche segment.”
One of the major reasons for this comes down to taste, with many consumers still looking to biscuits and cookies for that indulgent consumption experience.
“We definitely are still seeing the biscuits that fall under the sweet segment, and those that have cream filling being more popular,” he added.
“Parle does have healthier-focused items such as Nutricrunch which is a digestive range with a focus on fibre, minerals and vitamins – but the current demand is still for regular products.
“It is why even under the premium range we have developed a wide variety of different offerings – Nutricrunch falls under here, but there is also the Hide&Seek Chocolate Chip cookies with higher-value chocolate chips and the Hide&Seek Milano centre-filled cookies, Crème Sandwiches and Black Bourbon ranges, all of which offer different indulgent consumption experiences.”
Similarity with India
Middle Eastern markets and especially Dubai have been the centre of focus for many Indian food and beverage brands over the past few years, with more and more brands looking to set up and expand stable export relationships into the region, and Parle is no different.
In addition to the spending power and large population size being attractive factors for investment, Sareen added that there are many similarities between the consumers of both markets that further drive Indian firms towards the Middle East.
“The tastes when it comes to food and beverages, and especially biscuits, are quite similar between the Indian population and the Middle Eastern population,” he said.
“[Even though India generally has lower spending power], we have also seen good, substantial growth in the Platina range here which shows that there is a demand for these premium products.
“Both markets also have very ethnic populations that are very fond of bakery products, which is an added benefit for a bakery company like ours as it gives us an extra edge when bakery products are already popular here.”