Perfetti Van Melle India Pvt Ltd, manufacturer and marketer of confectionery, plans to invest Rs 30 crore in expanding its manufacturing units near Gurgaon and Chennai, according to Mr Stefano Pelle, its Managing Director.The company also plans to introduce a new product early next year and a second product under an existing brand umbrella, Mr Pelle said.
Mr Pelle was talking to reporters at the launch of Happydent Protex, a specially formulated sugar-free chewing gum, which the company says will help prevent tooth decay. The product contains Xylitol, which differs from other sweeteners such as sorbitol, fructose and glucose, so bacteria cannot make use of it. This helps prevent caries and maintain healthy teeth.
Happydent Protex will be available in two forms - in a mono pack priced at Re 1 and a blister pack of six priced at Rs 5. The blister pack is reportedly a first in the category.
Mr Pelle said that the company was able to introduce `sugar-free' products only in July after the Indian Government brought in a new law permitting sugar-free confectionery.
Sugar-free is the most important category in the chewing gum segment in the European and American markets. About 70 per cent of the gum market in the US is sugar-free while in the UK it is 90 per cent. In Turkey, which is a relatively new market for sugar-free, the category already accounts for 44 per cent of the gum market, he said.
In India, the sugar confectionery market is estimated at Rs 1,600 crore. In contrast, the market for sugar-free products is "hardly existent", says Mr Pelle.
The company plans to spend about Rs 2 crore on advertising during the next two to three months, Mr Pelle said.
Perfetti Van Melle India, a subsidiary of the international company Perfetti Van Melle, started operations in India in 1994.
The company has a market share of 25 per cent and has adapted its flavours and blends to local tastes. The company biggest brand is Alpenliebe followed by Big Babol, Center Fresh and Chlormint.