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The Covid-19 Pandemic: A boon or bane for the Indian biscuit industry

The Indian biscuit market has seen demand rise during the pandemic due to an increase in at-home consumption. Milk biscuits and Marie in particular, drove up demand, bringing the growth rate to about 12% in 2020.

Panic buying in response to the covid- 19 pandemic prompted biscuit companies to concentrate on launching new variants and expanding their presence, especially in rural India. Companies with a smaller biscuit market share are now ramping up their plans by consolidating distribution and introducing new products.

Biscuits have long been common in India, with Maharashtra and West Bengal having the highest consumption rates. After 2005, India became the world's third-largest biscuit maker. Exports in 2020 were 17 metric tonnes, up from 16.6 metric tonnes in 2019. It’s worth noting that, India's biscuit market has come a long way, accounting for roughly 72 percent of the bakery industry's revenue.

Traditionally, biscuits were once made with ordinary flour, sugar, and saturated oil, then molded, baked, and cooled in an industrial environment. However, as people's disposable income increased, as did their tastes and preferences, biscuit manufacturers were forced to develop a new line of biscuits. With the invention of salted biscuit, this challenge was successfully met. Similarly, thinner crusts and the addition of digestive ingredients to make biscuits more nutritious were also added to the manufacturing process.

The biscuit industry is currently divided into two sectors: organized and unorganized, with well-known brands controlling the organized sector's market share. Small bakery units, cottage and household style manufacturing and packaging units, on the other hand, make up the unorganized market, which helps them distribute their products in the surrounding areas. The growth of the unorganized sector is aided by self-managed and concentrated product lines, as well as lower marketing expenditures.

According to estimates, India's overall biscuit market is worth $5-5.5 billion, with cookies accounting for 35-40% of that amount. Plain biscuits, such as marie and milk biscuits, account for 25% of the market, while cream biscuits and crackers each account for 15%.

Currently, biscuits are distributed in eight million outlets across India, and having a wide supply chain network is crucial for companies looking to capture a significant share of the market. Moresoever, the market for biscuits is likely to continue as the Covid-19 pandemic has made more people to work from home, a trend that is likely to continue throughout 2021.

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