“At Mondelez, ‘digital’ is ingrained in our DNA”

Present in more than 150 countries around the world, Mondelez International has truly become the King of Snacking in today’s date. The parent company – which is home to iconic brands such as Cadbury Dairy Milk, Oreo, Toblerone etc. – lives by the motto of offering the right snack, at the right time, and made the right way. Growing and evolving to withstand customer demands over the years, Mondelez has never failed to ‘wow’ its customer across the world.

Nandkumar Kulkarni, Vice-President, Supply chain, Mondelez India, in conversation with Logistics Insider, talks about the role of digital tech in sustaining their growth, innovations underway, their sustainable approach and much more. Mr Kulkarni is responsible for leading the organisation’s end-to-end supply chain in this dynamic and emerging market that is India.

With 74% of adults preferring small meals throughout the day than large ones, and 81% replacing at least one meal each day with a snack, consumers are always on the search for the right snack. How is Mondelez India catering to this changing consumer need and delivering snacks to every nook and corner of the nation?

The role of snacking in consumers’ lives has changed drastically over the past couple of years. With the pandemic placing greater importance on balancing health and indulgence, the meaning of snacking in Indian consumers’ lives has only evolved further. To match the changing preferences, we at Mondelez India, have focused on creating eating experiences and providing multiple choices for consumers across categories. Our commitment is demonstrated by the fact that we launched over 10 products in the last year, including expanding into emerging and fast-growing segments.

In addition to snacks replacing meals, another key trend observed in the last two years is the emergence of convenience and variety as significant drivers. They are experimenting with new channels to acquire varied snacks. Addressing the growing demand for non-traditional and emerging channels, Mondelez India launched its first direct-to-consumer website in 2017. This helped the brand foray into the e-commerce market while providing us an additional channel for consumers to directly connect with the brand. Currently, to match the growing demand across rural and urban areas, we’ve optimized service and delivery timelines considering all nodes including plants, distributors, knitting operations etc. for a stronger end-to-end network.

A long-term digital strategy with supply chain visibility and speed to market is believed to write the success story of FMCG manufacturers. How is Mondelez India leveraging digital strategy to sustain growth?

At Mondelez India, ‘digital’ is ingrained in our DNA, encompassing almost all aspects of our business. It plays a key role in driving consumer centricity – right from planning our channels to helping us map our consumer journey. With a clear focus on harnessing the power of data and technology, we are well placed to cater to the end consumer better.

When it comes to making our supply chain more agile, resilient, and cost competitive, digital continues to play an increasingly important role. Our digital strategy primarily focuses on 4 important pillars: 1) Create Lighthouse Factories 2) Digitize distribution 3) Achieve end-to-end synchronization and 4) Invest in our people and their capability.

We have deployed AI/ML and cloud-based IoT solutions targeting best-in-class costs with real-time performance visibility of our factories. We use advanced warehousing and transport management systems that optimize routes and augment vehicle load utilization. Digital track and trace help us to monitor product quality and location on a real-time basis. Video analytics helps to drive manpower productivity and safety adherence at our facilities. We are also experimenting with a Digital Control tower for end-to-end value chain synchronization while leveraging AI/ML to further improve our forecasting using relevant external factors and macro indicators. At the core of all this, remains our investment in the capability building of our workforce through multiple global and local partnerships with top academic institutions, service providers, and technology firms.

On the sales front, we have devised an exclusive product strategy to scale sales on e-commerce platforms. Along with the launch of our direct-to-consumer platform, we continue to collaborate and partner with e-grocery apps to meet the needs of consumers.

Highlight how a strong focus on constant innovation and collaboration help dodge unprecedented situations and meet consumer demands.

Agility will continue to be our cornerstone driving all operations and helping us align with unanticipated challenges and opportunities that influence the consumers’ demand. Keeping a consistent pulse on changing preferences has helped us pivot quickly to better meet the ever-evolving needs of today’s consumers which translated into varied digital innovations in the supply chain for the same.

Innovation based on data collected through Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning helped mitigate difficult scenarios, minimize waste, move stocks closer to SKUs, and manage the overall supply chain seamlessly. Lastly, our strong distribution network of added 80000+ stores along with personalized and digital shopping experiences through our direct-to-consumer website and unique partnerships with other online marketplaces, helps us provide consumers with the right snack at the right moment.

This is an abridged version of the original interview that was published in the June edition of the Logistics Insider magazine. To read the complete article, Click here.

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