Biscuits burnout? Lotte to focus on new and premium product markets for growth in Asia

By Pearly Neo

- Last updated on GMT

Lotte believes that it needs to increase its focus on markets out of its comfort zone in order to accelerate growth, particularly in Asia. ©Getty Images
Lotte believes that it needs to increase its focus on markets out of its comfort zone in order to accelerate growth, particularly in Asia. ©Getty Images

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Biscuits heavyweight Lotte believes that it needs to increase its focus on markets out of its comfort zone in order to accelerate growth, particularly in Asia where the market for baked products is becoming increasingly saturated.

Lotte is the producer of popular baked biscuit snack products such as Koala’s March and Pepero, with items such as these being amongst the company’s best-known brands over the years since it was established in 1948, with strongest presence in markets such as South Korea, Japan and Thailand.

However, the firm is now looking to increase its growth and exposure in Asia by placing additional focus on more non-biscuit product categories, as well as in markets where its presence is not yet well-established such as India​.

“India was already been identified as a key target for us under our Global Business last year, due to its large population and improving productivity and consumption,”​ Lotte Wellfood (the arm of Lotte comprising its Confectionery and Foods businesses, as well as Global Business) CEO Paul Yi said via a formal statement.

“We are reiterating this focus this year as we see that the attractiveness of the food industry in India is continuing to increase due to the local economic growth as well as changes in global dynamics.

“These changes include global political competition for dominance amidst powers such as the US, China and Russia – but India has been strengthening its political and economic position amidst all of this, entering the global top five in nominal GDP and market capitalisation in the past few years.

“Importantly, we have seen increased per capita confectionery in this market, and a lot of potential to grow in terms of both consumption and pricing, which expands opportunities for our premium brands such as Choco Pie and Havmor ice cream.”

Notably, neither of these items are the biscuit items which Lotte is so well-known for, but this is not surprising as the competition against biscuits in India would be immense given the strong presence of local brands such as Parle and Britannia, which both carry enormous ranges of biscuits with incredibly widespread coverage across India and at low prices.

Even in one of its most established markets which is Thailand, Lotte is also looking to take a step towards increasing its market share of other types of products outside of biscuits despite the success of Koala’s March here.

“Koala’s March has seen incredible success in Thailand and other market in this region, and Thai Lotte has been mainly developing in the biscuit business here for many years,”​ Thai Lotte Marketing Division Manager Mao Ogino told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

“Unfortunately, there is no denying that there are now a huge amount of SKUs in the market and an ever-increasing number of players and competitors, so much so that we have felt the need to switch our thinking to find more new business pillars.

In addition to this, we are also aware that many of our legacy biscuit brands have been in the market for many, many years and are getting quite mature, so there is a real need to update the brand portfolio with more items and business pillars to stay fresh and modern.”

Bakery not forgotten

That said, this by no means indicates that Lotte is looking to move away from its biscuits business, but more that it is looking more strongly activate its footprint and presence in other food categories.

For instance, Lotte India will be focusing on Choco Pie and Havmor, whereas Thai Lotte has launched new chocolates brand PopNow in Thailand to great fanfare.

“We want to secure a brand presence here [with the premium products], such that we can expand regional coverage and strengthen a leadership role in the Indian market – but we are also looking to continue production investment for our landmark biscuit brands too,”​ said Yi.

“This will include the introduction of Lotte’s Pepero brand line in mid-2025, [which we hope to establish after] achieving the target of expanding our consumer base from 681 million last year to 767 million this year.”

Thai Lotte has also made multiple strategic innovations to the Koala’s March biscuit brand such as broadening its brand appeal from a children-focused audience to more adult consumers​ prior to making its pivot, and will continue to develop these as well.

“At the end of the day, the prime consideration is for our products to reach a wider range of consumers not only for children but also for office workers, ageing consumers and those interested in healthier products as well,”​ said Ogino.

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