Our Bureau

Mumbai, July 19

INDIANS have become fervent consumers of branded snack foods or `Namkeens'. In the fiscal year gone by, the market for branded packaged `Namkeens' has grown by 34 per cent according to ACNielsen's list of fastest growing categories and brands revealed at its annual client conference - Consumer 360 - held in Mumbai.

"The urban lifestyle lends itself to the `snacking and grazing' consumption behaviour one observes in more developed countries. As Indian consumers increasingly move to a more cosmopolitan lifestyle, snack foods that are easily portable and hygienic have become a ready substitute for hot-snacks," observed Mr Sujit Das Munshi, Executive Director, ACNielsen South Asia.

"Of course, the rapid expanse in its availability (distribution), the intensive promotional support in these categories and overall vibrancy in terms of pricing and packaging have undoubtedly aided this," he added.

Refined oil too has maintained its aggressive growth, with a 22 per cent rise in sales value for the fiscal year gone by. While the underlying factor driving sales remains `commodity branding' with manufacturers packaging and branding this product, which has traditionally been purchased loose, other sociological factors are also at play.

"The urban housekeepers' emphasis on health and fitness means that the `health' positioning of cooking oils is likely to be driving consumption," pointed out Mr Das Munshi. This year's list of the fastest growing categories also includes a new entrant - batteries, which have risen 18 per cent over the previous fiscal.

Other products in ACNielsen's list of fastest growing categories display a well- rounded selection of grooming (hair oil), household care (scourers, mosquito repellents), personal care (shampoos) and foods (packaged atta).

"The positive trend for FMCGs is heartening to marketers particularly because of this broad-based growth that includes multiple areas of the product basket," said Mr Das Munshi.

Riding this broad-based recovery, a host of FMCG companies have witnessed healthy sales growth. ACNielsen's list of the fastest growing FMCG companies (with a value contribution of over one per cent to the total FMCG market) indicates that companies such as Ruchi Soya and Adani Wilmar have enjoyed aggressive double-digit growth and six out of the top 10 fastest growing companies were home-grown brands. Prominent MNC companies such as Procter and Gamble and Reckitt Benckiser too have grown by over 20 per cent in the value terms for the fiscal year gone by.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated July 20, 2005)
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