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Britannia builds on appetite for healthy foods: Rajneet Kohli

Consumers are increasingly looking for healthier products and it’s very important for packaged food companies to accelerate on nutrition and health and the claims they are making, Britannia Industries chief executive officer and executive director Rajneet Kohli has said.

“We’re sensitive to what’s happening, we understand that there are health codes that people are looking at, and in various categories,” he told ET in an interview. “We’re making a conscious choice as an organization to bring healthier products to consumers.”

Packaged foods companies have been in the spotlight amid increasing consumer concerns about products high in sugar, salt, or transfats, and claims made on labels.

Kohli, who took over as Britannia’s chief executive last year in September and reports to managing director Varun Berry, said, “We are working on other new products that can be launched in that (nutrition) direction. We are absolutely cognizant of the environment and working on it across the diary, biscuits, breads, and so on.”

Britannia, which competes with Parle Products and ITC in its core biscuits and cookies business, makes Good Day, Tiger and NutriChoice biscuits, Winkin’ Cow flavoured milk, and Laughing Cow cheese. Late last year, Britannia inked a partnership with global cheese maker Bel to up its share in the niche but fast-growing packaged cheese category.

Late last week, the foods regulator Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) said it found 32 fresh cases of foods business operators in violation of misleading advertisements and claims. FSSAI said these products included health supplements, organic products, staples and millet-based products, and said deceptive claims or ads can be punishable offenses under the FSS Act, 2006.

The regulator’s announcement came soon after chocolates and milk foods drinks maker Mondelez came under intense flak after an influencer video alleged the company’s brand Bournvita has been making misleading health claims. Kohli said more than 50% of Britannia’s existing portfolio has micronutrients, adding that it straddles health and indulgence categories. “Our priority is to provide consumers with products that are safe, meet all regulatory requirements, and fulfill our quality standards.”

Late last year, the company had said its NutriChoice brand had crossed ₹1,000 crore in annual revenue. Its recent health-based launches include millet bread and a NutriChoice range of seeds and herbs-based biscuits, extending its sugar-free and millet-based portfolio.

“We’ve been at both ends of the spectrum. Whether it’s indulgence or nutrition…we give choice to the consumer. There are superfoods now and everybody talks about them, but we always had those, like diabetic-friendly biscuits,” Kohli said.

For the December 2022 quarter, Britannia reported revenue at ₹4,196.80 crore, up 17.39% YoY, and said it witnessed positive growth momentum over the last few quarters and top line growth of 16%, led by direct reach, rural push and expansion in adjacent categories.

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