US-headquartered multinational confectionery giant Mars Wrigley aims to transform itself into a treat & snacks company by launching a slew of products and smaller serve sizes, as consumers look for healthier alternatives.
The company’s strategy is in line with several global food and beverage majors such as McDonald’s, Nestle and Pepsi-Co that are rethinking their offerings to consumers in the wake of public outcry against products that lead to lifestyle-related health issues. “As part of our pledge by 2022, Mars Wrigley along with others want to reduce levels of saturated fat in chocolates by 10-15%, limit treat pack size products to 125 Kcalories or less, smaller portion sizes, like in India, we have a 15-gram Snickers which is 74 Kcalories only, and front of pack calorie and GDA labelling,” said Kalpesh R Parmar, Country GM at Mars Wrigley India.
He said demand was holding up against the backdrop of the second Covid-19 wave.
“The second wave has not disrupted the supplies to that extent. We ensured that stocks were available for our retail partners and that we were more or less operational throughout. Looking at our learnings from the first wave, where rural did well, we have launched new packs not only to drive in-home consumption but also at the right price points for more rural consumption. Last year, we saw the neighborhood supermarkets and local kiranas doing really well,” said Parmar.
“This year when the lockdown came, we were clear on our strategy. We saw that people were not taking long trips, so the top retail outlets were where we witnessed a lot of benefit, and we were able to capitalize a bit of revival. Last year, we also saw some positive response in semi urban and rural business,” said Parmar. He said the company is in discussions with the food regulator FSSAI and other industry groups. “We are very confident that together we will reach a consensus on a labelling model that will empower our consumers to make the informed decisions to build a healthy diet,” he said.
Identifying Bharat as the new growth area, Ritesh Gauba, Sales Director at Mars Wrigley India, said the company has doubled its distribution at the right price points. “That is what is really helping us drive business, not only on the gums and mint side which comes at Rs 1 but we’re also seeing good traction for something like Snickers at Rs 10 in rural areas.”
“While last year, a large set of cities were affected, it was rural driving the growth. Even though rural growth is reduced this year, it still continues to grow.”
When asked about the company’s investment plans, Parmar said, “We are here for the long-haul and the investment in India will be ahead of the growth curve. And in terms of revival, we’re seeing a good recovery and it’s still going to be tough looking at how the third wave pans out. We’re a bit watchful, but we remain excited about India for the long term.”