Tier 2 and 3 cities are becoming aware of healthy eating: Vikram Agarwal, MD, Cornitos

Today, consumers want a variety of easy-to-carry, price-effective snacks that do not compromise on taste and nutrition

VikramAgarwal

Nachos was totally an unknown product in the Indian snacks market until Greendot Health Foods launched ‘Cornitos’ a few years ago. The brand gained popularity among consumers in a short span.

Today, Cornitos is one of the leading nachos brands in the Indian snack market and commands more than 60% market share in Nacho’s category. The brand is witnessing sudden growth in the last few years due to the change in preference for healthy snacking.

In a conversation with exchange4media, Vikram Agarwal, MD, Cornitos spoke about the journey of the brand, ongoing trends in the Indian snacks market, competition and more.

How has been the journey so far? You came at a time when there was no competition in the market and with a product which has never been tasted before. Does that give u a sense of insecurity? 

The journey has been good with our flagship brand, Cornitos with sales increasing annually. Cornitos not only commands a sizeable share in the nacho crisps market but has also kept pace with the evolved taste of healthy India.
Initially, Nacho Crisps was launched in Metropolitan cities and over the years, it has expanded to Tier-II and Tier-III towns. Consumer brand loyalty for Cornitos products makes us confident and helps us continue on the growth path.

Now times have changed and many brands have entered with the same product. How you are differentiating yourself? 

Cornitos Nacho Crisp is a Mexican snack in International flavours catering to the Indian palate. What makes Cornitos different is its unique preparation and healthy ingredients. The first differentiator is that our Nacho Crisps are cooked in healthier Corn oil which no other brand is using. Cornitos is made by the Mexican Lime-Treatment process of making traditional masa using Stone Ground non-GMO Corn. Cornitos is 100% corn snack, gluten free, zero cholesterol, zero trans fats. Cornitos Nacho Crisps has recently launched Veggie Nachos – Beetroot, Spinach, Mélange, and Quinoa blended with Corn Masa.

The packaging of Cornitos is unlike other snack brand's look on the shelf. What was the whole idea behind this?

Two years, post-launch in 2012, we decided to re-strategize, re-brand and work on making the product visible on the shelves. The packaging was changed and glossy gave way to matte-finish packs. The logo, color scheme, and fonts were also changed to make it look like an international product. The word "chips" was replaced by "crisps". We also took the product image off the packaging, as we wanted the TG to look at the word 'nacho' and 'crisp' and not the picture.

When Cornitos re-launched as a new product altogether, distributors gave us great feedback and sales also soared.

People in metros are becoming more health conscious, how are you looking at this opportunity? 

Consumers are continuing to broaden their concepts of snack foods beyond potato chips and cookies. Driving expansion in the snack food category is increased preference for healthy snacks that excite consumers and fit into their health-conscious lifestyles. Cornitos sale is seeing an upward trend and is moving in a positive direction due to the changing consumer preference for healthy snacking.

We expect the market to pick up even more since we are seeing a lot of awareness from Tier 2 and Tier 3 Cities and they are realizing the importance of eating healthy and are switching to it.

How has the festive season been for the company and what are your expectations from the last quarter of the fiscal year? 

The festive season went very well and we recorded the highest sales in that period. Cornitos' sale will continue the upward trend in last quarter as we have prepared a comprehensive marketing plan to support sales.

How do you see the current FMCG market scenario in India and what are the latest trends you are witnessing in the ready to eat snack segment? 

Snacking has been on the rise for several years, but the last two years have marked a particularly notable growth. Today, consumers want a variety of easy-to-carry, price-effective snacks that do not compromise on taste and nutrition. Consumers are now adopting healthier and innovative snacks like veggie nachos, which are made using vegetable extract blended with corn.

The main benefit of veggie Nachos is the nutritional value of the product increases to a very high extent. The category of gourmet snacks is fast gaining acceptance with more and more Indians owing to globalization and travelling overseas and becoming exposed to new products and flavors. International gourmet snacks are now widely available at supermarkets and modern trade.

All the above trends are helping the growth of Nachos as a category and we are adapting well to suit the changed consumer preferences.

You are a well-established brand here in India, but how are you doing in the overseas market? 

Cornitos is leaving its imprints in global markets as well. Cornitos products are exported globally, to USA, Australia, China, Singapore, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Maldives, Hong Kong, Nepal, Srilanka, Pakistan, Taiwan, and Thailand. Internationally it's doing well because of the flavors.

Any new campaign in the pipeline?

We are conducting varied marketing activities like wet sampling in top Modern Retail Outlets, organizing healthy snacking awareness, participating in national and international food shows, snack partner in college fests, stalls in recognized consumer fairs and sharing Nacho recipes through Nacho Challenge events, across India and thus connecting with consumers at different touch points.  

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