Though the ITC brand is almost synonymous with tobacco, it has in no way weighed with the people purchasing products of ITC's Foods division and the company has been able to capture nearly 10 per cent of the market share for biscuits within a year of the launch of `Sunfeast' range of biscuits, according to an ITC executive.
The biscuits market, which witnessed a growth of 12 per cent during last year in the country, is expected to sustain its growth during the current year, too.
Speaking to Business Line after the launch of `Sunfeast' range of biscuits here the other day, Mr Sunil S. Narayan, Branch Manager, ITC Ltd, Coimbatore, said the biscuits market in the country was estimated to be worth Rs 4,500 crore annually and in terms of quantity it was around 5.12 lakh tonnes. While the organised, branded segment had a 60 per cent market share the rest was accounted for by the unorganised sector.
Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh were two of the largest markets for biscuits and Tamil Nadu, with 9 per cent market share, was ranked third.
He said the ITC Foods division launched biscuits in three segments - Glucose, Marie and Cream - and it was the first to come out with two new flavours - Orange Marie and Butterscotch Cream biscuits.
While in the rural markets Glucose biscuits do well, in the urban markets it is the cream biscuits segment.
Asked about the consumer readiness to accept biscuits, ready-to-eat food products and chocolates marketed by ITC through its Foods Division despite the fact that ITC as a brand has long been associated with tobacco, he said ITC clearly demarcated its two businesses and food products were sold through groceries/departmental stores that did not deal in tobacco products. Hence there was no hesitation on the part of the consumers.
This has been borne out by the fact that atta and salt launched under the `Aashirvaad' brand name by ITC Foods division had done very well in the markets and in Coimbatore district, ITC's atta has garnered a 19 per cent market share.
He attributed the company's success in the food products business to the depth in its distribution network, ability in brand building and in identifying quality outsourcing opportunities.
Mr Narayan said ITC entered the biscuits market in August 2003 and it has introduced its products in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Kerala, etc.
The `Sunfeast' brand of biscuits have been able to capture a 10 per cent market share where they have been launched.
In Coimbatore, he hoped by the end of 2004-05, it would garner 20 per cent of the biscuit market.
He expected the market for biscuits to be good since the per capita consumption of biscuits was just about 10 kg in India where was it was 100 kg in countries like the US and even China.
Moreover, from being essentially a favourite of children , biscuits are emerging as a preferred snacks to be consumed with coffee or tea and this wider consumer choice promised growing demand for them, he added.