Lockdown musings....

Consumers have been gorging on pasta and noodles during the lockdown, in addition to salty snacks and biscuits, data on household consumption patterns shows.

In fact, it is pasta that has seen the sharpest spike in consumption with volumes jumping nearly three-and-a-half times from 2,200 tonnes to over 7,600 tonnes during the 12 weekly periods between April second week and the second week of July, Kantar’s Worldpanel division’s numbers reveal.

In volume terms, however, it is a fraction of the noodles market, where volumes expanded 27% from 58,000 tonnes to nearly 74,000 tonnes in the same period, while biscuits jumped by 52%. And salty snacks, another favourite, grew by 32%.

Kantar Worldpanel division MD (South Asia) K Ramakrishnan said, “Snacking has seen significant growth during the last few months. All of this has been on the back of strong consumption gains by households. For example, 220 additional grams of noodles were bought during this period by an average household. ”Some brands outgrew their category growth. According to sources, ITC’s Yippee, for instance, is said to have clocked a growth of 50% during this period.

ITC foods division chief executive Hemant Malik said, “We have witnessed an unprecedented surge in demand for Aashirvaad atta, Sunfeast biscuits and Yippee noodles over the last few months, driven by increase in home consumption, increase of snacking occasions, as people continue to work from home as well as consumers’ preference for trusted and safe brands during this pandemic.”

Ramakrishnan also said, “For biscuits, the additional purchase by consumers is a massive 1.1 kg, and for salty snacks it is just over 500 gm.”

The trend of growing moments of snacking is being milked by many marketers. For chocolate major Mondelez India, while Oreo plays in creams with focus on family snacking moments, Bournvita biscuits tap into the morning snacking space. Mondelez India associate director – marketing (biscuits) Sudhanshu Nagpal said, “The biscuits category has been highly commoditised traditionally. But we see consumers are increasingly seeking and experimenting with more variety and superior experiences over the last few years. In our endeavour to continue to give consumers such experiences, we have entered the chocobakery segment this year with the launch of a new brand ‘Cadbury Chocobakes’, which extends the brand Cadbury into bakery formats of cookies and cakes.”

However, Ramakrishnan said Kantar does not see strong indications of a growing number of brands entering households. “For example, households buying multiple brands stayed stable at 37% for noodles in the March-June period. Similarly, for the other categories too, we do not see any growth in this aspect. This trend of brand consolidation was something that we have observed pre-Covid also, which seems to have continued during the Covid period,” said Ramakrishnan.

Outside of snacking, with growing adoption of hygiene methods by consumers, some FMCG brands such as Dettol have gained significantly to become the leading soap brand by value.

The average value share of Dettol soap for the three months (April, May, June) of 2020 is 14.2%, according to Nielsen retail sales data. A Reckitt Benckiser spokesperson said, “This is a milestone achievement and buttresses the strength of the Dettol brand — it is already the no. 1 antiseptic and no. 1 handwash in India, and now has become the market leader in soaps.”

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