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December 23, 2009

Gujarati snack maker who cocks a snook at Pepsi

The Economic Times has a profile of Gujarat-based snack maker Balaji Wafers which controls 70-90% of the state's Rs.600 crore market for wafers and namkeen leaving Pepsi-Frito Lays and North Indian snack giant Haldirams far behind.
Indeed, Balaji products like Chataka Pataka, Ratlami Sev and Sing Bhujiya, among others, suit the tastes of a specific market. The company offers masala wafers to cater to the Gujarati palate, chaat masala for the Maharashtra market and a range of spicy snacks for Rajasthan. Here, it scores over Haldiram’s, which too has flavours to cater to the North Indian palate, by a better understanding of the Gujarati consumer. Balaji’s pampers the Gujarati’s sweet tooth by keeping its khatta-meetha less spicy.

...Balaji MD Chandu Virani says volumes help him offer such prices. The pricing plan drove PepsiCo’s Kurkure down the same path, he says, adding that his rivals had to offer similar schemes to retain consumers. This strategy of marrying price, flavour and distribution is estimated to have catapulted the group to a 90% share of the state’s wafers market and 70% of the namkeen market. After beating local brands like Samrat & Real, Balaji has since spread to Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, eyeing a bigger bite of the Rs 3,000-crore branded snacks market.

...PepsiCo has since been trying to convince Mr Virani for a sellout. The group is against the idea, focusing instead on an expansion overdrive. Plans are afoot to expand the snacks range and cater to the global markets.
Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private equity, venture capital and M&A deals in India. View free samples of Venture Intelligence newsletters and reports. Email the author at arun@ventureintelligence.in