Oct 10, 2008

Business - Indian,Foreign cos gear up for bitter battle in chocolates

Lalitha Srinivasan

The Rs 3,200 crore branded chocolate sector in India will soon witness a major tussle between Indian and foreign players. To take on multinational rivals, homegrown brand Amul is focussing on distribution network, mass-market brands and traditional advertising plans.

On the other hand, Cadbury India is investing in new premium products and nontraditional media to sustain its leadership in this sector.

Meanwhile, ITC Foods is gearing up to enter the branded chocolate sector this year, informed industry sources. RS Sodhi, chief general manager, Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd(GCMMF) said, “We plan to extend our distributions network. Encouraged by the response to our new launches Amul Choco Zoo and Bindaaz,( at Rs 5), our core focus is on mass-market brands this year.”

According to Sodhi, the company is planning to expand the capacity of its manufacturing plant in Gujarat.

“We are now the third largest player in this sector. To gain high visibility we are investing on mass media ad campaigns too,” he added. During the festive season, Amul is planning to launch slew of new initiatives.

Cadbury India has forayed into the premium ‘dark chocolates’ sector with the launch of ‘Cadbury Bournville’ across the country. “With this launchwe want to develop the dark chocolate category in India.

For the first time, an Indian company is launching dark chocolates here. Modern retail format is also a key driver for this category,” said Sanjay Prurohit, executive directormarketing & international business, Cadbury India.

To create awareness for its new brand, Cadbury India is planning to host many ‘sampling’ exercises and events in major malls and colleges.

“With a huge amount of sampling, we want to develop dark chocolate palates in India.

We have created a special micro site to augment consumer interaction with the brand too," he added.

According to industry analysts, the chocolate category in India will witness a lot action this fiscal. “We will see major chocolate brands in a bitter fight to gain market share in the next few months.

With increasing competition, this sector will post a 15% growth,” said an analyst based in Mumbai.

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