Chocolate brands

Reliance teams up with 50 Mithai manufacturers to tackle chocolate brands like Cadbury and Nestlé


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The addiction could disrupt billion-dollar companies like telecommunications and green energy, but it also seems to spot opportunities in slightly more mundane areas.

Reliance Retail has distribution partnerships with 50 mithai manufacturers from all over India. Reliance will help these traditional confectioners to mass produce and distribute candies, and also help them modernize their packaging and extend the shelf life of candies. Reliance intends to have mithai packaged as guys, barfis and fags compete with chocolate brands like Nestlé and KitKat. These mithais will be accessible to consumers through Reliance’s considerable weight at retail and are already placed in all Reliance grocery stores such as Smart Bazaar, Smart and other grocery formats, in addition to the JioMart e-commerce platform of RelianceRetail.

“We want to democratize traditional sweets and not relegate a particular variety to a region”, said Damodar Mall, general manager of grocery retail at Reliance Retail, told ET. “We are also developing single-serve packs of these mithais that will be placed in kirana stores as the business grows,” he added. In its grocery stores, Reliance Retail has created several stand-alone bays and units for traditional candies, similar to what modern commercial stores do for chocolate and confectionery brands. Reliance is betting big on the initiative – it reportedly made internal projections for sales to outsell chocolates by 10 times.

The partnerships so far have resulted in over 500 packs and over 100 varieties of traditional sweets, and Reliance is looking to partner with more local players. Some of the regional sweets makers Reliance Retail has partnered with are Doodh Misthan Bhandar from Jaipur, Lal Sweets in Mysore, Prabhuji & Bhikharam Chandmal in West Bengal and Chawannilal Halwai from Ajmer. “We provide them with access to the distribution network, technical know-how, modern packaging and develop their products for extended shelf life,” Mall said.

Reliance seems to have spotted an opportunity with traditional Indian sweets. While the Indian chocolate market is currently worth $2.2 billion and is dominated by major foreign brands such as Cadbury and Nestlé, the traditional confectionery market is largely fragmented with few major players. Additionally, chocolatiers have been treading mithai territory for some time – chocolate companies now regularly run advertisements that position chocolates where mithai were traditionally used, such as at festivals and other religious occasions.

And Reliance is probably best placed to lead the mithai to defend oneself. Trust is India’s largest retailer and also runs JioMart, and can help distribute these sweets like no other company in India. Reliance also has deep pockets and can help these traditional confectioners develop candies that have a longer shelf life and packaging that will help them compete with big brand chocolates. india mithai The tradition dates back thousands of years, and Reliance could breathe new life into it as it faces the challenge of giant multinational chocolate corporations.

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