Cadbury unfazed by rural slowdown: ‘Ups and downs common in a country like India’ | INTERVIEW

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Published: June 10, 2019 6:36:18 PM

Cadbury hopes for a revival in rural demand and believes it can benefit from the stimulus and macroeconomic growth that the new government has the potential to bring.

Photographer: Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg

Mondelez India, the parent company for brands such as Cadbury and Oreo among others, is not worried about the ongoing rural slowdown and believes that in an emerging country such as India, it is a common phenomenon. The company expanded its Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate range on Monday with the launch of a variant with 30% less sugar. The company hopes for a revival in rural demand and believes it can benefit from the stimulus and macroeconomic growth that the new government has the potential to bring, says Anil Viswanathan, Director, Marketing, Mondelez India. In an interview with Financial Express Online, he talks about how the company sees huge potential in India and will continue to expand in new categories and innovations. Edited excerpt of Anil Viswanathan’s conversation with Prachi Gupta.

With almost every major FMCG brand talking about rural slowdown, how has Cadbury fared in the past quarter in terms of sales?

We don’t give short term forecasts. From a long term perspective, we see there has fundamentally been a growth opportunity.

Have you been affected by the rural demand slump?

There is still a fair amount of momentum we see in our categories. Without getting into specifics, I will say that we continue to have kind of trajectory that we have had. We are not necessarily seeing a huge change. We do have ups and downs. Some quarters are up, some are down. We have different strategies for different quarters for example for gifting seasons. It is very difficult to predict a long term average, the average is consistent.

Considering there were elections in the last quarter and FMCG sales do spurt during elections, how has that fared?

Short term it can go up and down. But nothing major. It is very normal. In an emerging market like India, it keeps going up and down.

But it is really surprising. Many FMCG brands including ITC, Parle, Dabur, Britannia and others have said that quarters sales have slumped; it is really worrisome, it is huge and it is big.

When you read the messaging, the broader message is that nobody is going away from the long term opportunity. Everybody has their point of view. Everybody is saying that there is a hope of revival. Everybody’s hopeful. We are hopeful. I think for us, there is a lot of headroom for growth in the under penetrated categories. There is a lot of investment that we are putting in. If you wear a growth hat, and you wear the hat which says I am going to invest in growth dimensions, then definitely you will see there is opportunity.

Where is the company planning to invest further?

In new ideas, in manufacturing, in advertising. More of what we have done today will be there. We are entering the season. Watch the space. If you see our journey, if you track our journey in the last two years, there has been a lot of innovation. That journey will continue. We will continue to grow the category, innovate, give more reasons to consumers to connect with us.

Do you have suggestions for the government to alleviate the rural crisis?

There is a lot of focus in terms of what the new government is going to do in budget and how they are going to ensure that. There is enough stimulus for growth and more stimulus for growth is definitely going to help.

What are the industry expectations from budget?

In industry in general is looking at stimulus. It is looking at more growth across the sectors agriculture and manufacturing.

And what is Cadbury looking for?

As long as there is overall macroeconomic growth, then I think we can ride that momentum, we can grow our categories.

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