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Increased home-baking in COVID times, spikes Hershey's sales of syrups, spreads & cocoa powder Chocolate maker Hershey India has witnessed a sharp increase in the sales of its grocery portfolio, which consists of syrups, spreads and cocoa powder, as home baking activities have gone up during the pandemic time, said a company official. According to a PTI report: The company, which looks India as a key focus market, is working on the transformation of its portfolio over the last three years and would continue to look for the growth opportunities here. "Sales of our Hershey's grocery portfolio (which is Syrups, Spreads and Cocoa Powder) in June was nearly double versus the average monthly run rate in the first quarter of this year, demonstrating that our business is now accelerating again. "So during the lockdown, families have been spending time together, they have been cooking at home and recent consumer trends also indicated that there's been a significant surge in people searching for home baking and cooking recipes," Hershey India Managing Director Herjit Bhalla told PTI. Besides, Hershey India has ramped up its capabilities on e-commerce during the COVID-19 times, which is a focus area of the company and also partnered with several food delivery apps such as Swiggy and Dunzo to deliver its products at consumers' doorsteps. "We have looked at the current situation as an opportunity to emerge stronger. We've looked at every spend pool across the value chain to challenge existing assumptions. This has helped us unlock savings and efficiencies in both cost and cash," said Bhalla. During the pandemic, the company has witnessed people buying in more volumes as the frequency of visiting stores has declined. Besides the value of the purchase has also gone up as consumer is spending more time in the kitchen and usage of grocery range has gone up. However, consumers are being cautious in their spending and are looking for more value-based offerings. "Its mix of things, they are cautious when stepping outside at the same time they are looking for better value, so they are focusing on larger pack sizes," he told PTI. According to Bhalla, the company is simplifying its demand planning, supply chain to be able to focus on specific requirements of the consumers. "So if consumers look for low-cost trial packs, we have them. Or if consumers look for larger premium packs, we have those as well. Everything that we are making, is largely produced in the country and it is tested and customised for an Indian consumer's palate," he further told PTI. Its three brands Hershey's, Sofit and Jolly Rancher has been growing at a CAGR of 30 percent for last three years. "We are focused on Hershey's, Sofit and Jolly Rancher and these focus brands, over the last 2-3 years have been delivering about 30 per cent growth and our focus is to sustain that as we go along," Bhalla told PTI. "If you really look at us, we are a fairly young business in India and we are still in our growth stage to really bring in our entire portfolio into the market." Earlier, in January this year, it had introduced chocolates which includes Hershey's Kisses, Hershey's bars and Hershey's Exotic Dark. "Our strategy, very clearly, is to continue focusing on building our business in India. India is one of our most important international markets and over the last 10 years we have created a stronghold in India with the Hershey's brand and some of the key categories being milkshakes, cocoa powder, all of these we hold leading positions and that has enabled us to build our chocolate portfolio in the country," he told PTI. On being asked about the expansion plans of Hershey for the Indian market, Bhalla said India is a key focus market for the global chocolate maker, where the company is focusing to build a strong brand and is committed to bringing its portfolio here. "For the Hershey Company, India is one of the most important focus in international markets. It is a market that we are committed to, in the long run. We have committed a US$ 50 million investment in the country at the end of 2017. Given the fact that Indians have a sweet tooth and market in India is big and growing, we are very confident of bringing in the portfolio and enabling our consumers to interact a lot more with the brand," he was quoted by PTI as saying.

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