There are hundreds of varieties of biscuits for which recipes are available in bakery related text books and the Internet and a few of them are commercial successes. Cookies and biscuits are adorable snacks as they contain, besides sugar and fat, important growth nutrient protein also. In India the three major biscuit makers are Parle, Britannia and ITC, each having a dozen successful products in the market. Of course there are many other players also having small share of the market and some of them enjoy niche clientele for specialty products. According to the available statistics, the biscuit industry in India is comprised of four distinct groups like large ( only 3 units), medium (50 units), small (2500 units) and micro enterprises (35000 units), churning out a production estimated at 1.5 million tons valued at Rs 30 billion.
Interestingly glucose biscuits, a distinct category of biscuit, unique to India, account for more than 45% of total production in the country. Why is this called glucose biscuit? No one knows for sure how this legendary name came to be established as a common man's own food. But there is no disagreement regarding its role as a food for the poor as well as the working class as it is the cheapest processed food ever made in the world. Major credit must go to the Parle Products which ventured into the biscuit sector more than 6 decades ago and established its Glucose-G brand as the leader in the biscuit market.
The fact that this biscuit contains hardly 1% free glucose is besides the point. Whether in free state or as a part of the starch in the wheat flour glucose from the biscuit is readily available to the consumer with in a few minutes of its consumption and if the originators have called this product glucose biscuit, it must be to create an impression in the minds of the consumers regarding its value as a source of energy. At less than Rs 50 a kilo, glucose biscuit is indisputably the cheapest and affordable convenient and nutritious food not only to a large segment of Indian population, but also in whole of the world, with hardly any rivals in sight. If at all any one deserves a Life Time Achievement Award for contribution to Indian food industry and to the humanity at large, it is the Chauhan family of Parle Products for their vision and dynamism in creating a product of unparalleled popularity without sacrificing the nutrition.
The growing popularity of small pack sizes, which was thought about a decade ago, has made them an indispensable part of Indian landscape and there is no consumer product has been left untouched by this unique 'phenomenon'. Who ever has thought about this strategy ( definitely not a copy from the west ) deserves kudos for pepping the market place and bringing millions of people into the main stream market. The logic is simple and the presumption that lower income group can meet its aspirations of consuming modern packed foods has proved to be right. It is unimaginable that Indian consumer, whether in urban or rural area, can have access to a vast array of foods and other personal hygiene products in the price bracket Re 1 to Rs 5. Glucose biscuit is no exception. There are unit packs available at prices of Rs 1, 2, 4, 10 and 20 to fit every pocket. Small sized packs of Re 1 and Rs 2 are highly popular as single serve units convenient to be carried along in person. This is indeed an example of the food industry's efforts to descend from its perch and show its concern, care and consideration for the common man. Such examples need to be multiplied several fold if real impact of food sector is to be felt across the country.