For Agro Tech Foods, pandemic has been nothing less than a blessing in disguise in terms of the growth. While it did negatively impact the FMCG company to some extent, its ready-to-cook and popcorn brands grew quite significantly over others.
Asheesh Sharma, Vice-President Marketing, Agro Tech Foods, said, “Our year to date (YTD) growth is about 21% for the food business. In Q2 of this year, we experienced a good volume growth of 13% and a value growth of about 14% over quarter two of last year. Our Q1 performance was 28% on volume and 31% value.”
Traditionally operating in just two categories of ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat, which contributes 15% to its overall business, the company now plays in six categories in total. It later added two categories of cereal snacks and popcorn and recently launched chocolate confectionery and chocolate spreads. Sharma said that the same is likely to give an additional five to 10% point of growth.
“Our YTD would be around 20- 25% in this FY. Our product portfolio is such that we are designed to garner growth in all situations,” he said.
The company’s current advertising and promotional spends are at 6% of the total revenue and aims to take it to 8% with its food business growing. TV will continue to be its first choice of the medium.
During the festive season, the company does only tactical activities and does not increase its ad spends or related promotions.
“The festive season is not a good time because all the white goods would be on air at that time. We do some tactical things during festivities. We don't rely on festive business, it is just an add on. Since what we offer are all the routine products,” he said.
The company has never been a digital heavy company. So in the last one and a half years only, it has started to experiment with digital through Instagram and Facebook.
Sharma said that ever since it has realised the importance of digital, the company has started to invest in it. However, the investments aren’t big at this level.
Further explaining the marketing strategy, he said, “One of the most important things for us is that in the marketing strategy, there is an element of awareness, trial, repeat, and retention. As a company we make money when we have loyal consumers and before that it is all investment phase in every shape and format. We start with the ‘learn, confirm and expand’ model. Different products of ours are at different stages right now.”
For Food Agro Tech, post Diwali is when it does a lot of advertising.
Talking about the growth and impact of the pandemic, Sharma said that the company has products which can be consumed both indoors and on the way, and that is how it started benefitting from the same.
The company has also launched its chocolate brand at affordable price points.
“It's one of the largest categories and highly competitive. As we get into chocolate confectionery with a much differentiated product of fusion chocolate, we are steadily building the business. Our offering is at a much attractive price and the price points are Rs 5 and 10. When other players sell these products, they always look at it as trying to premiumise and look at improving the value of the category. We wanted to make sure that we have a product that every Indian can afford,” he said.