With consumption in India on a rising trend, FMCG major Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) said the share of the middle class with an annual income of ₹5-₹30 lakh has doubled to over 30 per cent between 2004-05 and 2021-22. This is projected to double again to over 60 per cent by 2046, said the company, attributing the growth to favourable demographic, digital public infrastructure, innovation and favoured investment destination.

Speaking at the company’s 90th annual general meeting (AGM), Nitin Paranjpe, Chairman, said India has taken the centre stage, but the challenges, if not addressed, will turn opportunities into obstacles.

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Potential aplenty

“India’s labour force participation rate in 2021, at 46 per cent, was among the lowest in Asia. Our growth in the recent years has primarily been productivity-led, while employment has only increased marginally in the last 10 years. Indian farmers produce 2.4 tonnes of rice per hectare, which is far lower than its actual potential, while Brazil and China produce 3.6 and 4.7 tonnes of rice per hectare, respectively. Agritech and access to knowledge have the potential to transform the rural Indian economy,” said Paranjpe.

The company, that added ₹33,000 crore in turnover and ₹9,500 crore incremental EBITDA in the last decade, said ensuring sustainability, increasing women’s participation in the workforce and creating a healthy society will be the keys for growth in India. Going ahead, the company will focus on embracing changes to remain future-fit, developing a strong human capital and embedding purpose into business strategy.

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“Through our people data centre, combined with social listening, we are capturing insights and consumer trends faster than ever before. Our ‘Agile Innovation Hub’, developed for collaboration and innovation, is helping us speed up product design, development and testing, to launch innovations faster. We are also leveraging data and technology in our media deployment to ensure that we reach the right audiences. Our direct-to-consumer (D2C) platforms are directly engaging with digital-native consumers, enabling an end-to-end shopping experience,” Paranjpe added.