Mondelez International and Lotus Bakeries are joining forces to manufacture and sell biscuits in India.

The partnership centres on the Lotus Biscoff brand, which accounted for 54% of Belgium-based Lotus Bakeries’ global annual sales revenue of €1.06bn ($1.14bn) last year.

Under a dual-pronged initiative, US confectionery and snacking giant Mondelez will manufacture, market and distribute Biscoff biscuits in India from its existing production network.

The two companies will also develop new products combining Biscoff biscuits with Mondelez’s chocolate brands such as Cadbury and Milka. They will first be sold in Europe, starting in 2025, with an option to expand the product offering globally.

“This partnership provides new opportunities for both companies to accelerate their growth ambitions in the attractive cookie and chocolate categories, with potential options to expand into additional markets and/or adjacent segments,” according to a joint statement.

“Lotus Bakeries aims to achieve significant visibility and sales growth in this high-potential market, while Mondelez will build upon its already strong presence in both traditional and modern trade to expand its cookie offerings into high-demand premium spaces.”

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Dirk Van de Put, the chairman and CEO of Mondelez, said: “We look forward to partnering with Lotus Bakeries to expand the Biscoff brand in India, where it already has a loyal following among key consumer segments.

“This partnership will help accelerate our strategic focus on the cookies category by introducing a premium brand that is widely loved in numerous markets to a much wider audience.”

The co-branded products are still in the early development stage but are targeted for launch next year, with Biscoff and Cadbury in the UK and Biscoff and Milka in Europe.

Lotus Bakeries CEO Jan Boone added: “We look forward to building on their [Mondelez’s] commercial expertise and market-specific knowledge and presence in India, and we believe now is the right time to expand our distribution in this growing market.

“Additionally, we are excited to add our Biscoff brand to one of the world’s leading chocolate companies.”

Lotus Bakeries global group revenue increased 21% last year to cross the €1bn barrier for the first time. Net profit rose 25% to €129.3m.

The Lotus Biscoff range notched up growth of 20%, taking the CAGR from 2013-23 to 16%. Lotus Bakeries does not break down sales figures by brand.

A spokesperson for the Belgium business confirmed Lotus Biscoff was first launched in India around 15 years ago, adding that in 2023 the country accounted for 0.2% of the company’s overall group sales.

Manufacturing for the India market is currently carried out at Lotus Bakeries’ Lembeke plant in Belgium, while distribution is conducted through a local partner, the spokesperson said, revealing a caveat with regard to the recipe.

“Mondelez will source locally but Lotus Bakeries will provide a secret ingredient mix to protect the Biscoff recipe. Other manufacturing IP is licensed out to guarantee Biscoff’s unique caramelised taste and unique crunchy texture,” the person added.

Meanwhile, India is a key growth market for Mondelez, sitting within its Asia, Middle East and Africa business segment, where net revenue increased 4.6% last year to $7.08bn. Like Lotus, it does not break down sales for individual markets.

Mondelez’s group revenue climbed 14.4% to $36.02bn.

Specifically for India, Mondelez announced last summer it planned to invest Rs16bn ($191.5m today) in its Sri City manufacturing facility in the state of Andhra Pradesh to increase chocolate production capacity over three years.

Present in India for more than 75 years, Mondelez operates three other plants in the Asian country, the company said at the time.

Just Food has asked Mondelez to clarify the locations of the facilities and which ones will manufacture Biscoff biscuits.