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Britannia plans slew of vitamin-rich fortified products

Vinay Kamath Chennai | Updated on July 23, 2020

Varun Berry, Managing Director, Britannia Industries   -  Nishant Ratnakar

Turmeric, ginger and ayurvedic ingredients to be in the mix for immunity-boosting products

Varun Berry, the 6 ft 4-inch, 58-year-old Managing Director of Britannia Industries Ltd, believes the trend of consumers seeking immunity-giving, health-boosting products is here to stay. In a few months, the biscuits-to-dairy company intends to launch two biscuit varieties and two dairy products, all fortified with vitamins, minerals and also with turmeric, ginger and ayurvedic ingredients.

In its portfolio now, it has iron-fortified Tiger biscuits with micro-nutrients, a product targeted at bottom-of-pyramid markets. “A lot of work is happening; our lab in Bengaluru is working on different fortified products, in biscuits, bakery and dairy products. Unfortunately, this is not the time to commercialise it,” says Berry, adding, “We want to do it the right way.”

With production lines running to capacity with its ‘bread-and-butter’ biscuit brands, which delivered spectacular first quarter results for the company, Berry says, “I don’t think we are in a position to commercialise them or go to the market or get consumer feedback on these products. I don’t think we will launch for the next three months or so, but we will start work on these as soon as the markets open up. There are a whole lot of concoctions; in three to four months we will see a roll-out happening.”

Trusted brands

Berry offers an analysis of how the company was able to get up to speed in a short time during the pandemic. “Everyone worked their backsides off trying to do everything to get products manufactured and into the market. It was fantastic to see the passion Britannia managers and workers brought to the table, going beyond the call of duty,” he says. Britannia is blessed with trusted brands “and in times like these consumers gravitate towards trusted brands. Thirdly, the product category was getting more share of stomach, there was no out-of-home or on-the-go consumption; the cheapest snacks were biscuits, so we were getting the benefits of that too.”

Britannia also prioritised its offerings. As he explains, it didn’t make sense to make all brands as production capacity reduces because factories can’t do longer runs of each brand. Britannia stuck to making its blockbusters — Good Day, Marie Gold, Milk Bikis and Nutri Choice. The first month of the lockdown, it focussed only on these brands and later introduced its 50:50, JimJam, Bourbon and Little Hearts. “We completely de-prioritised the value portfolio, it was unfortunate, but just to make sure we got full capacity behind our large brands we didn’t have any Tiger products for three months. Now we are back to 80 per cent levels,” explains Berry.

Also read: Keeping store-shelves stocked is Britannia’s challenge

 

Overseas business

In the past three months, its breads and cheese did well for Britannia. “Rusk has also been a great performer,” he adds. Apart from India, Britannia’s international business also worked well for the company. A factory in Nepal and two in West Asia, in Dubai and Oman, also produced to capacity. Exports to Canada and Australia, from its Dubai unit as well as from its factory in the SEZ at Mundra, brought home the bacon. International business is about 7 per cent of its business with exports from India constituting 3.5 per cent.

Before the lockdown, Britannia’s brands reached 5.2 million outlets around the country. Now there is no way to assess overall distribution as numbers are not available with field work not possible. “We were at 21 lakh outlets direct distribution; it dropped to 19.5 lakh outlets, but now it has gone up to 21.5 lakh outlets, so we are better than where we started at. But we couldn’t enhance our distribution,” says Berry.

Published on July 23, 2020

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