Eat, drink and be healthy

HARISH BHAT | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on January 19, 2011

To keep you in the pink of health: Companies are coming outwith a range of foods that position themselves on the health andwellness platform – from fibre-rich drinks to baked-and-not-friedsnacks. Seen in file photo above is Nadia Chauhan, Joint ManagingDirector and CMO, Parle Agro. - Picture by SHASHI ASHIWAL   -  Business Line





F&B brands will have much in store for the stressed and health-conscious adult.

Last week, two big new brand launches caught the eye of many Indian marketers. One of India's largest FMCG companies, Britannia, entered the breakfast market with a brand aptly named “Healthy Start”, offering a range of fortified breakfast mixes consisting of upmas, pohas, porridges and oats. The single-minded focus of this new brand: healthy foods based on multi-grains, vegetables, pulses and nuts. Almost at the same time, Dabur launched India's first fruit and fibre beverage, branded “Real Activ Fiber+”. Packed with the goodness of a dietary fibre with an exotic name - resistant maltodextrin - this new beverage brand claims to manage weight and maintain the digestive system.

These are amongst the first few FMCG brand launches of the new year, and they illustrate an interesting phenomenon which is fast occupying a prominent space in the foods and beverages category in India – health products, which promise adult consumers a variety of healthy snacking and drinking options, with specific benefits clearly articulated. While health foods and beverages for children have always been around, adults are now the large and lucrative new target segment.

The insight underpinning these brands is strong and likely to endure in the years ahead: Stressful modern lives accompanied by an enhanced consciousness of health and wellness are leading to Indian consumers aspiring for foods which will keep them fit and fine. This insight is perhaps most pronounced amongst urban, educated, upper-middle class Indians who suffer fast-paced lifestyles, are well-read, and also have the disposable incomes to indulge their desire for excellent health.

What are some big trends that marketers and consumers can expect to see, arising from this phenomenon? Here are a few likely developments.

Every food brand will launch “full of health” variants

In the months and years ahead, we should expect that every food and beverage brand will launch and promote healthy products and variants. Biscuit makers such as Britannia and Parle will have high-fibre or whole-wheat or fortified biscuits for every consumer segment. Tea brands such as Brooke Bond and Tata Tea will emphasise green tea packed with the goodness of antioxidants, or decaffeinated teas which are regarded as better and cleaner for your system. Soft drink makers will pack their beverages with more and more fibre and a range of vitamins, following in the footsteps of Real Activ Fiber+. Indian brands of bottled water are likely to follow the footsteps of the American brand Glaceau, which has launched with great success innovative products such as vitamin water, smartwater and fruitwater.

“Healthy” brands will extend into food and beverages

Many brands whose core propositions are built around health will launch extensions in core food and beverage categories, to leverage this emerging consumer need. A recent example of such brand extension comes from Marico's Saffola, a brand of cooking oils built around the theme of lowering cholesterol and thereby ensuring health. Saffola has now launched oats, also constructed around this very same benefit. Saffola Oats claim to offer “a strong heart and fit body”, and an accompanying recipe book even educates Indian families on how oats can be used to make healthier versions of idlis, dosas, parathas and upmas. We can soon expect brands such as Sundrop (which offers healthy cooking oils today), Tata (which offers iodised salt) and Ruchi Nutrela (which offers soya granules and oils) to launch their versions of core food products.

Brands will highlight active ingredients which deliver health

Food and beverage brands will no longer confine themselves to general promises of good health. On the other hand, they will highlight special nutraceutical ingredients which deliver specific aspects of good health, thereby resulting in blurring of the boundaries between tonics and foods. An interesting example is the launch of probiotic ice-creams by Amul, which contain probiotics or “live beneficial cultures” that improve immunity and digestion, and also prevent gut infection. Ice-cream, traditionally a pleasurable and even sinful indulgence, thus attempts to transform itself into a wellness food on the back of this ingredient. Consumers should therefore expect many more direct references to substances such as resistant maltodextrins, antioxidants and probiotics.

Brands will use elements derived from traditional folk medicine

A counterpoint to these active scientific-sounding ingredients will be the use of traditional folk medicines and herbs in health foods and beverages. Brands of tea infused with ginger and honey have already made their appearance on our supermarket shelves. We should expect innovative new products such as tulsi-flavoured oats, dosa mixes with a dash of turmeric, or biscuits embedded with neem leaves. Nestle has begun trials involving mulberry yoghurt, which helps diabetics with the digestion of glucose; and use of a herbal fungus called tremella which improves skin and strengthens bones. Global food majors are likely to invest millions of dollars in developing blends of their products which incorporate such traditional recipes for good health.

Brands will highlight and promote “natural” ingredients

Even in cases where no active ingredients or herbs are used, brands will focus on natural ingredients. We can expect Indian food brands to use and talk about whole-wheat and whole-grain products, and to shun refined or synthetic components which are not perceived as healthy. For example, in metro city upper-class households, white bread (which uses refined flour) is being rapidly replaced by brown bread (which uses whole wheat), and most premium brands and bakeries are promoting and leveraging this “back-to-nature” trend. Maggi, market leader in ready-to-cook noodles, has begun promoting its natural atta variant. Tropicana emphasises that its fruit juices are 100 per cent natural, with no added preservatives, colours or flavours. Many more brands are likely to follow suit.

There will be a diet version of virtually every food and drink

We are familiar with Diet Coke and low-calorie sugar-free fruit juices, which offer great taste at a fraction of the calories contained in the parent version. Given that weight control is a highly recommended route to good health, it is likely that we will see many more brands across categories pursuing this route. Baskin Robbins already offers fat-free ice-creams, McDonald's has its grilled chicken burgers, and local brands in Western India have even developed diet khakras. The day is perhaps not far off when brands of diet pasta or diet rava dosa mixes, very-low-calorie coconut oil and zero-calorie butter become very big trends in their own right!

With brands actively promoting healthy eating and drinking in so many different ways, we appear to be well on our way towards a leaner, fitter world. Let's raise a toast to that happy thought, preferably with a glass of antioxidant-rich red wine!

(Harish Bhat is Chief Operating Officer – Watches, Titan Industries Ltd. These are his personal views.)

Published on January 19, 2011
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