Select packs of Britannia’s Marie biscuits – they complement many an Indian’s coffee/tea – are now costlier by a whopping 27%, due to a hike effected last week, retailers in Kolkata said.
A 500-gram pack of Marie now retails at `33, up from the earlier Rs26. The new 300-gram pack, priced `25, is 60% costlier than comparable previous prices, and has been greeted by stiff consumer resistance.
Smaller packs cost less than bigger packs in absolute terms, of course, but in relative terms, they are up to 60% costlier. (Stated differently, a 300g pack used to retail at `15.60 when the price of a 500g pack was `26. Now, the corresponding prices are `25 and `33.)
Similarly, diabetic-friendly Nutrichoice cream crackers are 10% costlier: the pack price has been raised to `30 from `25, and grammage to 300g from 275g.
Despite consumer ire, higher prices would not dent Britannia’s sales as its main competitors, too, have effected similar price hikes.
For instance, Parle now retails its own 340g Marie pack at `25, highlighting that 40 gram comes free.
Earlier, biscuit-makers used to vary grammage to keep pack prices flat. Now, direct price hikes are combined with changes in pack sizes, in the wake of new packaging norms (which have abolished non-standard packs like 66g and 130g. Bread and biscuit packs priced below `10 are exempted though).
“With companies now selling a major chunk of biscuits at the `5 and `10 price points, there would be great difficulty in implementing any price change there and also tweak the grammage much. The price hikes, therefore, would mostly be seen in the bigger packs henceforth,” an analyst said.
Biscuit-makers blamed the price rises on the rise in prices of wheat, sugar and oil.
“Despite a sharp and unexpected increase in commodity and fuel costs, we continue to drive profitable growth,” said Britannia’s MD Vinita Bali after the second quarter results last fortnight.