Parle Agro expects to close this year with 5-10 per cent growth over the previous year, despite the challenging times due to the Covid pandemic. It proposes to do this on the back of rising in-home consumption and signs of recovery in the out-of-home channels.

The company, which is known for products such as Appy Fizz and Frooti, is also expanding its fruit-based sparkling product portfolio, with the launch of a new product called B-Fizz.

Talking about the launch strategy, Nadia Chauhan, Joint Managing Director and CMO, Parle Agro, said, “During the lockdown, retailers were operating with many constraints but the distribution channels have now come back to a certain level of normalcy with the implementation of various unlock phases. We felt this was an apt time to bring in a new launch to bring back momentum in the category.”

Parle Agro set to expand beverage business on e-commerce platforms

For the beverage industry, the pandemic-induced national lockdown coincided with the peak summer sale season with out-of-home channels being severely disrupted, leading to losses for the industry.

“The second half of the year is like a second summer for the beverage industry and there is typically an upswing in demand due to festival period. We believe we will end the calendar year with 5-10 per cent growth over the previous year. The in-home consumption occasion will continue to remain a key opportunity and we have also begun witnessing an uptick in demand in out-of-home channels,” she added.

B-Fizz is a malt flavoured carbonated drink with apple juice and is priced at ₹10 for a 160-ml PET pack. The company has roped in actor Priyanka Chopra as the national brand ambassador, while Jr NTR has been appointed as the brand ambassador for Southern India. The company will be putting in marketing spends worth ₹40 crore to promote the new launch.

Rural markets outpace urban

Chauhan said that offering the new product at a competitive price point has been a critical part of the strategy. “We believe this price point will enable us to scale up distribution of B-Fizz across both rural and urban markets and make it more accessible to consumers. We expect B-Fizz to become a ₹1000-crore brand in the next couple of years,” she added.

The company said that rural markets have been outpacing urban markets in terms of growth trends in the past few months. “In a bid to increase the penetration of our products, we have been ramping up our direct distribution infrastructure in rural regions,” she added.

While the traditional trade channel, which had shrunk during lockdown in terms of number of operating stores, is now back to normalcy, modern trade channel is taking time to recover. “Though the e-commerce channel is still very small for the FMCG industry, there has been acceleration in adoption of e-commerce channels by consumers due to the pandemic. We are working closely with the e-commerce partners and we definitely see a huge growth potential in this space,” Chauhan added.

Parle Agro’s turnover in 2019 stood at ₹6,500 crore. “We will continue to focus on mass appeal products and are on track to achieve a turnover of ₹10,000 crore by 2022,” Chauhan added.