P.T. Jyothi Datta

Mumbai, Aug. 7

A new range of table-top sweeteners, cookies, jams and jellies will soon roll-out of Rs 700-crore Alkem Laboratories, the Mumbai-based company that has been making medicines for over 30 years now.

In September, Alkem will launch table-top sweetner `Majesta' in different forms, including sachets, jars and liquid concentrates. "We are already selling to institutions, but the (retail) launch will be next month," Mr Sharad Kasarle, Alkem's Vice-President-Nutraceuticals told

Business Line

.

Majesta combines what is touted to be a new-age sweetener, fructo-oligo saccharide and sucralose. Being a soluable sweetener, it is "healthy," he said, differentiating the product from other aspartame sugar-alternates in the market. Also in the market next month is Jeevanprash, a sugar-free chyawanprash, he said.

Subsequently, the company would roll out other products like cookies, fruit and vegetable products, jams and jellies, juices and even soups, he said. This would be during the August to December period, he added.

The reason behind Alkem's diversification into food is because of the opportunity for health-oriented products, he said. The company is also looking at the nutraceutical segment. The food foray would be through Alkem's new health-foods division. The division could be spun-off into a different company at a later date, he said.

Health has been a platform for drug companies like Ranbaxy and Morepen, for instance, that sought to tap the fast-moving health segment with over-the-counter products. But Alkem's diversification is different, in that, it looks food-based products, nutraceuticals etc.

The products would be made at Alkem's Rs 60-crore plant at Mandua near Baruch in Gujarat. The plant is already commissioned, but will be put to full commercial use when the food-products are launched next month, he said.

Meanwhile, Alkem also plans to invest about Rs 25 crore in promotional activities, he said. The money is being raised in-house, he added. The company has also tied up with Muller and Phipps India as a distributor for its food products. There would be a commission on distribution, he said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated August 8, 2006)
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