INDIA – Hindustan Unilever India (HUL) is capitalizing on recent milk price deflation and strategic investments to enhance the reach and performance of its nutrition brands, including Horlicks and Boost.

In its Q1FY2024 financial results, HUL reported a 3% year-on-year underlying sales growth, reaching INR 595.8 billion (US$), and a 4% year-on-year profit growth after tax, amounting to INR 101.1 billion (US$).

HUL CFO Ritesh Tiwari attributed much of this growth to the company’s Foods and Refreshment category, which includes popular nutrition drink brands Horlicks and Boost, as well as ice cream, condiments, and tea businesses.

Tiwari highlighted that the Foods and Refreshment segment exhibited positive pricing and mid-single-digit growth, outperforming HUL’s other segments—Home Care, and Beauty and Personal Care.

He noted that investments in innovations, such as new ice cream products developed in partnership with Cadbury, and the successful launch of functional nutrition drinks, have driven this performance.

“The functional nutrition drinks range, including Horlicks and Boost, delivered strong single-digit growth, led by outperformance in the science-backed Plus range,” Tiwari explained.

“This growth was driven by both pricing and volume increases. The Plus range targets specific health areas such as protein intake, diabetes management, and women’s health, making it a premium part of our portfolio that has seen accelerated growth.”

The deflation in milk prices has significantly benefited HUL, as high milk prices had previously limited the consumption of these nutrition drinks.

Now, with more benign milk prices and reduced commodity costs, HUL is positioned to drive further consumption growth.

HUL CEO Rohit Jawa emphasized the company’s focus on making these nutrition products more accessible to a broader range of consumers.

 “We are investing in making the Plus range more accessible by lowering the average price point per pack and expanding the product variants. These initiatives have already led to improved market share and incremental growth.”

Jawa also stressed the importance of expanding the reach of HUL’s nutrition portfolio beyond its premium positioning to fulfill the nutritional needs of the average Indian consumer, particularly in underpenetrated regions like South and East India.

“The category serves an important community need by addressing carbohydrate, protein, and micronutrient deficiencies. There is a huge opportunity for growth, especially as we have successful templates from other regions like Southeast Asia,” he said.

 “We are seeing a gradual recovery in rural consumption and resilience in urban consumption, especially at the premium end. With a better monsoon, we expect a further recovery in the agri-economy and rural consumption.”

HUL’s strategy to boost nutrition brand reach through milk deflation benefits and increased accessibility investments position it well to cater to the evolving needs of Indian consumers and drive substantial growth in the nutrition segment.

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