Parle Products plans to focus on existing brands, premiumisation

Parle Premium brands account for 15-17 per cent of the company’s consolidated turnover of around Rs 100 billion
In its quest to become a Rs 200-billion foods company in five years, Parle Products plans to enter less competitive categories that are predominantly unorganised and extend premiumisation of its current portfolio.

For a couple of years, the company will continue to focus on the existing premium products and categories, said Mayank Shah, category head at Parle. “We will focus on innovating the existing product line and see how to premiumise them,” he said. 

Last year, the company had unveiled a separate division, Parle Platina, to launch premium products and drive market share. The group includes brands such as Hide & Seek, Milano and Nutricrunch in biscuits, Mexitos nachos in the snacks portfolio, and imported Belgian chocolates under the Friberg brand. 

The company has been testing waters to premiumise products with its flagship Parle-G brand under the sub-brand Parle-G Gold, which is priced at Rs 100 a kilo as compared with the flagship brand that sells around Rs70 a kilo. It is also preparing to extend the Platina portfolio with new variants of the existing brands. 

Compared with the non-Platina brands, which are growing at a 12-15 per cent, Platina brands have been registering 25-30 per cent growth over the past year. The premium brands account for 15-17 per cent of the company’s consolidated turnover of around Rs 100 billion, and Shah expects it to touch 25 per cent in the coming years.

Last year, along with the launch of the Platina division, Parle forayed into the Rs150-trillion pulses market in India with its premier Fresh Harvest brand.  According to Shah, although private labels from modern retail and local brands dominate the organised category, less than 1 per cent of the total market is organised.

“This itself presents a huge scope for us. If you see this category, there aren’t actually any large national players and, hence, competition is expectedly going to be less,” Shah said.

“Down the line, as we expand our foods portfolio towards the revenue target we have set, we will enter new product segments,” Shah said. 

Asked if the company is considering a foray into spices and wheat, Shah said: “For spices, we can certainly look at it later. For wheat, we have already been exporting it since 1990s and, hence, introducing it in India will be a natural extension.” 

In tune with other FMCG companies such as ITC, which is aggressively seeking a regional customised portfolio for its foods business, Parle is looking at launches that are regional and customised.  

The Fresh Harvest brand is available only in Maharashtra and Karnataka, and Parle is targeting to reach out to at least 50 per cent of the Indian geography in a year and a half.

On the other hand, although its Platina biscuit and snacks brands are distributed across its 6 million retail outlets, the Friberg premium chocolates, priced at Rs 350-550, are concentrated around the top 10 metro cities in India. 

In a year and a half, the chocolate range will be made available across top 30 metros and cities in the country. 

“It (Friberg) is not a product that can be routed via all sales channels in all markets. Also, servicing costs for a single outlet range between Rs 8,000 and Rs 10,000 a month for this chocolate. We need to take an extremely focussed decision as far as chocolates are concerned,” Shah said. 

In July, after deciding to phase out the Simply Good brand of digestive biscuits, Parle put in place the Nutricrunch brand under which digestive crackers, Marie and other two biscuits have been launched.  

“There is a shift among health-conscious consumers now to consume indigenous super foods and native grains. Both rice and wheat were introduced in India from abroad,” Shah said.

Parle is expectedly focussed to extend the Nutricrunch product-line to encompass these native grains from India.

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