Here’s how Britannia is strengthening its Dairy portfolio

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India’s cheese market is at a relatively nascent stage when compared to global markets but it is a segment that presents a lot of opportunities. Since the pandemic when people were stuck at home, there was an increase in people experimenting with cooking and owing to the role cheese plays in a lot of global cuisines, there was a surge in demand of cheese worldwide, according to reports.

Closer home, Britannia Cheese quickly recognized the opportunity and strengthened its digital marketing strategy to make the most of this surge in demand. In fact, in the financial year 2020-21, Britannia Cheese delivered sales of over Rs 230 crore.

Owing to the growth in demand, the brand also released a campaign recently which was aimed at raising awareness about the role the brand can play if included in children’s everyday diet.

Q) You have recently released a campaign for Britannia Cheese where you talk about the importance of consumption of good quality proteins for young adults. Tell us a bit more

Our new campaign for Britannia Cheese aims to educate the audiences about its protein-rich qualities. Proteins are by far one of the most important macro nutrients that should be a part of a healthy diet. The campaign aims to raise awareness about the role Britannia Cheese plays as a part of children’s nutrition and encourages parents to include it as a rich and delicious source of good quality protein in their children’s diet. With 2 slices of Britannia Cheese that is made from 100% cow’s milk, children will be able to get the same amount of protein as 1 glass of milk or 35 gms of paneer.

Q) India is still a young market for cheese. Since your campaign is talking about including cheese in children’s diet, how are you convincing parents it’s a healthy option?

When we started our background work, our starting point was that Britannia Cheese had considerably less amount of fat when compared to our butter. Categories like butter are familiar to us and a part of our daily diet, while cheese is a relatively modern option and hence unfamiliar category for Indian population.

Moreover, we also found that 4 out of 5 Indians don’t consume adequate amounts of good quality protein that comes from cow’s milk. Britannia Cheese which is made of cow’s milk is one of the richest vegetarian sources of good quality protein. Also, cheese is a major source of Calcium, Phosphorous and Vitamin A and hence a valuable addition to a healthy and balanced diet.

Q) How big is India’s cheese market? What is Britannia’s market share in the category?

As per IMAC Data, the Cheese category was Rs 3100 crore category in 2018 with 40% of the market coming from Retail sales and 60% of the market from institutional sales. In the financial year 2020-21, Britannia Cheese delivered sales of over Rs 230 crore and as per internal estimates, is the second largest player in Retail Cheese in the country.

Q) What sort of growth has Britannia’s dairy and cheese category witnessed in the last few years? What are a few factors that have helped achieve this growth?

The financial year 2020-21 saw Britannia Cheese growing at 30% on the back of lockdowns and consumers shifting their consumption from out-of-home to in-home. The growth in the first half of the year was somewhat subdued owing to the large bases of the previous year, however the growth for Britannia and the category has come back in the second half of this year. While Britannia remains strong across top metros and modern trade stores, our key growth markets in recent times have been the next 20 towns beyond the top 8 metros and e-commerce.

During and post the pandemic, we realized that the cheese category in Tier II towns has started outpacing the grown in metros and we are looking at growing our distribution in these markets significantly this year. Further the e-commerce business for cheese has been growing at a CAGR of 100% for the last 2 years and we expect to continue the momentum in the coming year as well.

Q) Being one of the top players currently, what sort of innovations are you bringing about in the category? Are you also looking at focusing on gourmet/premium cheese offerings?

One of the keys towards being India’s largest bakery foods company and one of the most trusted brands is the strength of our R&D function in driving product innovations. The Dairy portfolio is also key in our vision of making Britannia a global Total Foods Company. One of the focus of our investments in the Ranjangoan unit would also be to build a world class R&D facility. This will enable us to develop and grow the Indian Value-Added Dairy category.

In the vision for Dairy, we see ourselves as a Leader in the Value-Added Dairy category which we shall achieve by bringing world-class product experiences to consumers at prices that are competitive and yet create margins for investment into the growth of such experiences.

Some of the opportunities in Cheese that we would be keen to explore would be to grow the nascent Cheese Snacking category which is very large in western markets. Our back-end competency would also enable us to become a preferred supplier of cheese to hotels, restaurants, QSRs and cafeterias. We would also seek to grow nascent categories like spreads, cream cheese and Mozzarella cheese.

Meanwhile, other avenues for innovation that we have outlined lie in the Value-Added Drinks and Yogurts categories through a portfolio expansion for Winkin Cow and our Fresh Business.

Q) Globally as well as in India, a lot of people are moving away from animal-based foods… What do you think the future of the Dairy category looks like in India?

Today we see a large global recognition of the fact that our diets are high in carbohydrates but poor in protein and hence there is a move towards new sources of Protein to be added to our diets. In fact even in India there is a recognition of the fact that 4 out of every 5 Indians don’t consumer adequate amounts of good quality protein in their diet. This recognition is also fuelling the growth of the Dairy Category in the country and hence we see significant growth of categories like Cheese, Value Added Dairy Drinks and Value Added Yogurts. We are extremely bullish about the prospects of the category and hence have invested close to Rs 600 crore in our backward integrated dairy plant at Ranjangoan.

Q) What is your focus going to be in terms of marketing your products? What is your target for FY 22-23?

We expect FY 22-23 to be an exciting year for Britannia Dairy as this is the year we start manufacturing our own products. We would aspire to grow our business in high double digits led by Cheese, Dairy Drinks and the Fresh portfolio.

We have embarked onto a powerful Brand Campaign for Britannia Cheese build on bridging the Protein gap for Indians. This message is being spread through a 3-month Brand Power TVC in mass media across India. We are also investing in digital initiatives for the savvy metro consumer. For Tier II and III towns, we will also be investing in OOH to take the message far and wide. We are also investing robustly in Modern Trade Visibility and across E-commerce platforms.

We are also extremely bullish on Winkin Cow, our Dairy Drinks brand. We have regularly invested in advertising for the brand and next year, we plan to extend our offerings to various segments of the Dairy Drinks category, from affordable SKUs to premium and indulgent experiences.

Lastly, the Dairy Factory will allow us to incubate Maharashtra as a market to build a robust fresh dairy portfolio.


This interview was conducted by Samarpita Banerjee for Business Insider India. Published on 9th February 2022

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