Chocolates and chewing gums major Mars Wrigley India believes its diverse portfolio straddling across various price points is aiding the company’s sales during the times of the pandemic. The company is known for brands such as Snickers, M&M’s, Twix, Galaxy, Doublemint and Orbit.

The company said that all its three production facilities in Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka are operational with improved capacity utilisation. Kalpesh Parmar, General Manager, Mars Wrigley India, told BusinessLine, “The disruptions in the initial phase of the lockdown was a huge learning. We have been focussing on implementation of safety and hygiene protocols at our factories. The last 7-8 weeks have been much better than the previous period. We have been able to service the demand and not losing out on catering that demand through our production facilities.”

He added, “We have a diverse portfolio in India which suits various consumption occasions starting with a ₹1- Boomer chewing gum or ₹10-Snickers and going up to ₹100-₹150. The larger packs in the bigger cities lend themselves well to the in-home consumption occasion and have come to our help in the Covid-19 times. At the same time, we are witnessing strong demand in rural regions for lower price points of ₹1 to ₹10.”

Out-of-home consumption

Impulse food categories such as chocolates, confectionery and packaged snacks companies are heavily reliant on out-of-home consumption occasion. However, the pandemic has hit the out-of-home consumption occasion the most.

“Consumption at home has gone up as consumers are spending more time with their families indoors. It has not completely compensated for the out-of-home consumption yet. But consumers have found a new comfort level in packaged foods and trusted brands are benefitting from this. So bigger packs in our product portfolio at ₹100 and ₹150 are doing well. Also, families which were earlier consuming three-four chocolate packs are now consuming 10-12 chocolate packs,” said Parmar.

While the chewing gums category has witnessed a slowdown, Parmar pointed out that demand in the chewing gum and mints category is visible at lower price points. “We anticipate demand to bounce back earlier in smaller towns and rural regions. Consumers are more comfortable in indulging at the right price points,” he added.

The FMCG sector has been banking on the growing relevance of traditional trade channels of kirana stores and local supermarkets for sales growth in the past four months. “At the same time, futuristic channels like e-commerce have leap-frogged as consumers are becoming more comfortable to order online and we are working on embracing this channel more strategically,” he added.

Health, nutrition segment

Packaged food companies are also swiftly looking to strengthen their play in the health and nutrition space. “There is a lot of focus on home remedies and healthy cooking at home. We are trying to understand the implication of this trend at a global level especially in the emerging markets and will take a call on the company’s response to this trend,” Parmar added.