Yash Bhatia

Can Haldiram’s be to Indian food what McDonald’s is to burgers?

Neeraj Agrawal, director, talks about its plan to expand QSR business, festive season, international expansion plans, and more.

During the festive season, as gift boxes proliferate through exchanges with friends and family, a Haldiram's gift box can usually be found on the shelves of numerous Indian households. 

Riding on their almost century-old legacy of sweets, namkeen, bhujia, soan papdi, snacks, and other famous offerings, Haldiram's Food International is presently directing its attention towards its Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) chain.  

Similar to how certain QSR chains gain popularity for specific food items, such as Domino’s for pizza and McDonald’s for burgers, Haldiram’s aims to position Indian food on the global stage.

Neeraj Agrawal, director of Haldiram’s Food International tells afaqs!, “While there can’t be a particular food item, as we Indians are never satisfied with just one food item. As an Indian brand, we are looking to take north Indian/south Indian food/chaat to a global level in future.”

Within the competitive landscape, Haldiram's isn't seeking direct competition with established global QSR brands. 

“We’re not competing but standing in line with these international QSRs. As these brands represent their country’s food items, we want to do the same with Indian food. Our product offerings are different, that’s why we’re looking to be in line with them rather than competing,” he states. 

Currently, the brand operates 275 outlets across 40 cities with a split across 40% in malls and 60% in high street markets. 

By the year 2024, Haldiram's aims to establish 60-80 outlets, with a significant emphasis on key locations such as Bengaluru, Chennai, and Ahmedabad.

Food-delivery platforms play a significant role in the revenue of any QSR chain, as customers find it more convenient. For the brand, it contributes around 25-30% of its revenue of overall total restaurant sales. 

Agrawal states, “We’re closely associated with Indian families, as they come to us for different occasions. Our product offerings in terms of QSR cover a vast range of target groups.” 

The target demographic for its QSR endevours spans from 5 to 65 years old, covering a broad demographic range.

Capturing the youth market with HR cafe 

To cater to teenagers, Haldiram's has introduced the HR Cafe, currently in the experimental stage, featuring various offerings tailored to this demographic.

Agrawal highlights, “We have product offerings like sandwiches, chocolate muffins, fusion items and more.” 

Presently, the HR Cafe is operational in Raipur, Pune, and Indore. However, there are no aggressive expansion plans for it at the moment.

Advertisement campaigns 

The company launched its first TVC, Dhina Dhin Dha to promote its restaurant business. 

Despite already having a presence in 30 cities, what prompted the necessity for a national campaign? 

Agrawal answers, “It was covering major cities, and we were not looking to do a region-specific campaign. Customers associate Haldiram’s with only packaged food, with this campaign it aims to showcase its QSR chain. Also, our target is to expand further as well.”

The media mix of the campaign includes digital, newspaper, television, cinema, and radio as well. 

For the festive season, the brand reintroduced its 2020 campaign Desh ki Mithaas with a new film released on October 11. 

He mentions, “This campaign did well for us, we want to leverage the same in coming years. The whole idea of this campaign is to enjoy every moment, and with Indian sweets, it will uplift the mood.”  

Given the region-specific nature of sweets in India, the brand aims to strengthen its presence nationwide through this campaign. The portfolio features a diverse range of regional sweets brought together under one umbrella. Some examples include Rajasthani Peda, Mysore Pak, and Orange Burfi from Nagpur.  

For the gifting, the brand is focussing on corporate sales. “Our gifting box has a shelf life of two months, consisting of both sweets and snacks to fulfil the combination of all. The packaging is also delivery friendly,” Agrawal highlights.

Can Haldiram’s be to Indian food what McDonald’s is to burgers?

Currently, the gifting business of the brand is contributing 10% of the revenue of overall festive sales.  

International Market 

Haldiram’s holds a great demand internationally, as NRI present across the globe feed the demand for its popular namkeen products like Aloo Bhujia, and traditional sweets like ladoo, gulab jamun, and rasgulla

The company currently exports to more than 100 countries and is looking to expand in the US, Canada, and the Gulf countries. 

On the FMCG front, the international market contributes 10-12% of its overall revenue.

Other Initiatives 

The brand is also looking to foray into the realm of healthy snacking through two approaches. The first includes acquiring existing brands serving in the same category, while the second consists of launching in-house products made up of millets, soya and ragi.

In 2023, the brand integrated with bollywood film Bawaal, starring Varun Dhawan and Janhvi Kapoor to promote its RTE (ready-to-eat) range. Agrawal states, “Our idea is to integrate with any movie in a seamless manner that can easily flow with the script. We do limited marketing, but do it in the best way possible.” 

To leverage Cricket World Cup 23, the brand is doing in-store activations by giving free offers. 

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