The Ravalgaon Sugar Farm Ltd was set up as sugar mills in India. It later started producing confectionery as a by-product. Nihal Doshi, executive director, the Ravalgaon Sugar Farm Ltd, spoke to Anurag More about the confectionery market and the products offered by them and the ingredients therein. Excerpts:
How big is the Indian confectionery market and what is your share in the same? How different is the Indian market compared to other key markets across the world?
According to our estimates, the confectionery market in India, including both the organised and unorganised sectors, is approximately Rs 3,000 crore and is growing at an annual rate of 15%. The unorganised market for confectionery represents a substantial portion of the total industry. I would say it accounts for 50% of the total industry volume. Our market share is approximately 5% in the markets we operate in.
Globally, the confectionery industry is large. There is greater variety apart from hardboiled candies and toffees. There is a high level of innovation taking place and you will get to see numerous varieties of confectionery abroad. However, the Indian market is growing at a rate faster than its global counterparts. Traditionally, India is known to consume a lot of sweets and this proclivity towards sweets is advantageous as confectionery is a volume-driven sector.
Tell us briefly about your company.
Ravalgaon was set up in the 1930s as one of India’s first sugar mills. In the 1940s, we started producing confectionery as a by-product and built the division into one of the country’s finest confectionery manufacturers. Laco, our caramelised milk candy, is a product of our early days.
It wasn’t until the 1980s that we focussed on branded, wrapped confectionery. This is when we launched some of our star products, including Pan Pasand and Mango Mood. We have continued to expand our portfolio, coming out with several varieties of candies and toffees to appeal to every palate.
Today, Ravalgaon is a household name which has created a niche for itself with sweets and toffees with a timeless and ethnic charm.
What are the different and innovative products offered by you?
Ravalgaon, since its inception, has had a wide range of confectionery to offer to the masses. Our candies have a strong connect with the consumers. Candies like Pan Pasand, Mango Mood and Mix Cheery are loved by customers across the country.
We also have a bubble gum flavoured candy called Tutty Fruity, a jelly-centered candy called Assorted Center, and a toffee made with ethnic flavours like rose, cardamom and vanilla called Supreme Toffee. Also included in our portfolio are traditionally loved toffees like Coffee Break and Choco Cream. Our Sweet Moments gift pack, which we launched a few months ago, is an assortment of some of our products in a fantastic pack that is appropriate for all occasions and affordable for everyone.
How are they different from that of competitors?
Our products were created keeping the preferences of the Indian consumer in mind. You won’t find a product like Pan Pasand in the market even though many have tried to imitate us. Our Supreme Toffee is inspired by our country’s rich cultural heritage. Unlike most competitors, we use genuine ingredients. Mango Mood is made with mango pulp. Similarly, Coffee Break is made of real coffee powder. Laco and all our toffees are made using real milk.
What about plans such as expansion, diversification, collaboration and so on?
At the moment, we are focussing on penetrating our products all over the country. We aim to strengthen our distributor network to achieve this target. To aid this process, we have done a small restructuring of our team recently. Currently, we are on course in achieving this objective. Additionally, we are also exploring opportunities to enter international markets.
Are you planning to introduce anything new in view of the mood in the market?
As mentioned earlier, we are currently focussing on improving the distribution of our existing product portfolio. We have done some re-branding (Choco Cream) and re-packaging (Sweet Moments) to our products to help us realise the maximum reach.
Tell us about the R&D that goes into your products.
All our products are conceptualised, designed and developed at our facility in Ravalgaon, near Nasik. Quality control is of central importance to us, especially because confectionery comes under the food processing industry. We are also trying to improve the packaging of our products to enhance product longevity and higher retention of freshness.
What is the shelf life of products offered by you?
Our products are best before 12 months from the date of manufacturing.
Give us some strong points about your products.
Our products have been consistent in form and flavour since their introduction. Products like Laco, Pan Pasand and Cheery have garnered a loyal fan following because of this consistency.
Tell us about your price points.
We have two price points: 50 paise and Re 1. While 50 paise has been the common denomination for confectionery in India, we were one of the first players to come out with a Re 1 candy. We wanted to make sure that the quality and flavour of our candies do not get compromised due to the rising costs of raw materials. Overall, the Re 1 price point is inevitable for confectionery manufacturers all across the country due to the coinage limitations of our currency.