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Mars brings M&M candies to India

LiveMint logoLiveMint 02-08-2017 Sounak Mitra

New Delhi: Mars International India Pvt Ltd, the local arm of American chocolate maker Mars Inc. on Wednesday said it will bring M&M, its candy brand currently sold across 100 other countries, to India.

This is the sixth chocolate brand that the family-owned American chocolate maker is bringing to India. Like its other brands, M&M is also a $1-billion brand globally. The last brand that Mars launched in India was Galaxy in November 2013. Its most successful brand in India is Snickers that accounts for most of its revenue in India. It also sells Mars, Bounty and Twix in India.

“With M&M, we wish to expand the bite size category in India with a shareable snack. We feel this is the right time to make M&M available here,” said Andrew Leakey, general manager (India and Indian sub-continent), Mars Chocolate Ltd.

M&M will initially be available in chocolate and peanut variants, and will be priced at Rs80 for a 45-gram pouch and Rs150 for a 100-gram pouch. It will be sold at 84,000 retail outlets across the country.

With M&M, Mars enters a category dominated by Cadbury Gems, a product sold in India by Mondelez International Inc. since 1968. Cadbury Gems is available starting at Rs5 for a 8.9-gram pouch.

“That’s not a direct competition for us. M&M has a rich brand heritage, unique flavors, and is the No. 1 brand in the category globally. We’ll not get into the price game,” said Leakey.

M&M was born in 1941 and was originally sold in cardboard tubes. During World War II, M&M candies were exclusively sold to military and the product was included in the rations of American soldiers because of its resistance to heat. By the time the war got over and soldiers came back home, they were hooked to the taste, and M&M candies were made available in the retail market.

“India is among the top 10 focus markets for Mars. Revenue-wise, it is small, but this market has enormous potential for growth. We are always exploring possibilities for growth, and may look at smaller stock keeping units (SKUs) to have products at lower price points in India in future,” said Leakey. At present, the lowest price point for Mars chocolates is Rs 20 in India.

Currently, India accounts for just about 5% of the company’s global revenue annually. “It’ll be among the top 10 revenue contributors in 10 years,” Leakey said. Besides chocolates, Mars also sells chewing gums under Wrigley brand and dominated the pet food market in India with Pedigree and Royal Canin.

The chocolate confectionary market in India is projected to grow at around 8% per annum between 2016 and 2021 to reach Rs 16,200 crore (on constant value) from Rs 11,256 crore in 2016 backed by better retailing across rural areas, according to a study by consulting firm Euromonitor International. In 2016, Mondelez India dominated the market with a 48.6% share, followed by Nestle India Ltd (12.8%), Ferroro India Pvt Ltd (7.8), the study added.

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