The Leggo’s brand of Italian sauces, pestos and pastes are now a common sight on supermarket shelves across Asia.
And after advice from Austrade the company has now taken a new direction – India.
Austrade organised a virtual meet-a-buyer session for Leggo, which helped the company to launch an e-commerce platform, Amazon India.
Now, sales are growing steadily on multiple platforms and in physical stores.
Throughout the pandemic Austrade has been helping Australian businesses expand into India through the Australia India Business Exchange (AIBX) program.
Leggo’s is an iconic Australian food brand that is almost 100 years old. The brand is owned by Simplot Australia Pty Ltd (Simplot). Under Simplot’s ownership, Leggo’s’ Italian-themed brands have become available across Asia, including in China, Korea and Southeast Asia.
Simplot partnered with Austrade during its export expansion. Austrade has helped Simplot executives to make contacts in various markets and supported attendance at trade shows. In 2020, Austrade advisers made a suggestion: what about India?
Taste for western food brands
India was not a strategic target market for Simplot at that time – according to David Malone, Manager for International Sales and Marketing.
“Enthusiasm from Austrade advisers in India was the trigger,” says Malone. “India is obviously a developing market. Consumers in India are willing to try new and different things.
Malone investigated the market. He sensed the timing was right to give it a try.
“If we went early, we could build our brand and give it some heritage before global competitors arrived. Also, lockdowns in India accelerated trends towards home-cooking, so demand rapidly increased in early 2020.”
Austrade helps Leggo’s find an importer/distributor
Austrade advisers in India invited Leggo’s executives to a virtual “meet-a-buyer” event. Its purpose: to introduce potential Australian food exporters to potential importers and distributors in India.
“Virtual meet-a-buyer sessions are a good opportunity to examine India as a potential export market,’ says Malone. “I would recommend them to companies that are interested in exporting. During the event, Austrade introduced us to five pre-vetted buyers.”
Malone says that Austrade advisers in India helped his company to understand what an export strategy would look like.
“Austrade fast-tracked our entry into India by making vital connections to reliable distributors,” he says.
E-commerce a springboard to customers in India
Malone says e-commerce platforms are the key enabler of Simplot’s food-export strategy. They overcome many of the distribution challenges of selling foodstuffs into India. They also provide a great opportunity to reach out to consumers who are new to the Leggo’s brand.
“Our target market is very fragmented and so e-commerce platforms are a natural route to market,” he says. “We create seamless connections to customers because marketing is digital and so is purchasing.”
E-commerce is transforming grocery shopping in major cities in India. Simplot’s first e-commerce partner was Amazon India.
“Amazon India was very positive about our brand,” says Malone. “They were also willing to work with us to build the brand. And there are lots of opportunities with Amazon to direct traffic to our products. Amazon India make themselves easy to do business with.”
Selling in Indian hypermarkets and supermarkets
Stuart Rees, Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner, South Asia formally launched Leggo’s pasta and pizza sauces in Mumbai on March 11, this year.
“We simultaneously launched with Amazon and some physical stores,” says Malone.
“By mid-2021, we were also selling via two more e-commerce platforms – Food Hall and Nature’s Basket. These are Indian retailers that have a physical presence and specialise in western foodstuffs.”
Malone says the partnership with established retailers has helped to get Leggo’s into scores of supermarkets and hypermarkets in some of India’s biggest cities.
“The consumer response has been very encouraging,” he says. “We are selling well in-market, and the distributor is steadily increasing purchases. We are still in the early days but India is a long-term play.”