August 3, 2008

Nutrition, Taste, Health and/or pleasure of Foods!

We eat to live. Well most of us definitely do. Hence the food must make us healthy and increase our life span. As consumers are becoming more demanding the food companies have to work overtime to convince the buyers to depend on them for offering nutrition combined with pleasure. Therefore food companies are taking fatty foods off the shelves and replacing them with the healthier foods.

You may segment the food along four benefits; Nutrition, Taste, Health and Pleasure. What are the alternatives with the Cola majors like Pepsi & Coke? Would they be able to sustain a strategic attack on their consumption? Could they survive by asking consumers to go for cola drinks for pure pleasure? Or could they pass off as the tastier water available? They would find it very scary to go for a pleasure tag. Certainly they would never imagine killing their market by hawking Cola as a health drink. How the future is going to play out is a million dollar question.

Snack food market in India is dominated by the unorganized sector. But the future may be different. The organized retail revolution unleashed in India would change the contours in no time. Most retailers have or are in the process of launching their own snack food brands. The local small snack food players would be edged out from the market and would remain in business as vendors of the large stores. The evolution of biotechnology would also upgrade the snack food portfolio.

The sweet snack food segment dominated by biscuits is experiencing real tremors with entry of new competition from within and global market. Players in biscuit market are planning to launch biscuits as a healthy snack food. We are all convinced with cereals and dalia etc as a healthy food. But a snack is a snack. How can you force fit a biscuit to pass of as a health food? Surely a snack food product positioned on health benefit segmentation is in nothing but a horrendous idea. Hope no snack food player would like to present their products on the lines of Chawanprass or some Churan. If they do how would the packaging look like? Would it look like a health product, a medicine or some happy pleasurable packaging?

How many snack food players have we got in the Punjab region? Not many! Why is it so when there is huge market available in the region? When you shop for a snacks all you see if Fritolay, Haldiram, and 2-3 local players. We know that being a developing country that has recently come out of a total regulatory regime, our entrepreneurs are more comfortable with production than being adept in marketing their produce.

Every big small town in the region has 1-2 famous snack food player. How we all miss the great retail effort undertook by Lovely Sweets from Jalandhar. Gopal from Patiala has also flexed its muscles but have not taken a real shot at becoming an established player. Dhoda sweets may have shifted base to Ludhiana but their product line is woeful short.Cremica has opened up into this domain but they seem to be satisfied with organic growth only.

When would we see a snack food brand leveraging the worldwide appeal of PUNJABI DHABHA and SHER-E-PUNJAB? Is someone listening!

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