Mumbai: The Indian arm of Australian premium cookies and biscuits maker Unibic has found high traction in India’s north-east as it expands reach to new markets, a top company executive said.

While setting up distribution networks in north Indian markets, including Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, and eastern markets, including Bengal, Unibic found better traction among north-eastern consumers, said Nikhil Sen, managing director, Unibic Foods India Pvt. Ltd, in an interview with Mint.

“We’ve got a good response from some of the markets in the East," Sen said. “And in north-east in particular, where the consumers are highly discerning, and are willing to pay. Their disposable incomes are probably higher than Bihar and the east," he said. Unibic now has 150 distributors in the north-east which includes large markets like Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

About 55-60% of Unibic’s sales volumes come from southern Indian markets, where Kerala is the highest contributor, Sen said. However, the premium biscuit maker continues to face an uphill task in the north.

“When it comes to the north, we have received good feedback from the metro markets – Delhi NCR in particular," Sen said. “UP and Jaipur are still a setback and we have to put the distribution in place," he said.

North and east India are two of India’s largest markets by population. However, they are difficult to sell in, especially for new brands, because distribution here is dominated by wholesalers and so is more unorganized and driven by cash.

“Punjab is responding well," Sen said. “But yes, dealers are not easy there. We will address this going forward, and will probably look at specific packs for these markets."

For Unibic, which sells mostly premium-priced goods, these markets will be a challenge because consumers in northern and eastern India are known to be more price-sensitive.

Among the new packs that Unibic is considering for the north is the classic Rs10 pack for some of the company’s premium offerings, Sen said.

This comes at a time when listed rival Britannia Ltd has been focusing on expanding distribution in the “Hindi belt"—which includes Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan—since August last year, Mint reported on 9 August 2016. Apart from Britannia, Mumbai-based Parle Products Ltd is among the large, organized biscuits makers in India.

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