Catalyst

Yellow gold roots in the age of corona

Harish Bhat | Updated on May 28, 2020 Published on May 28, 2020

Turmeric is making a big comeback into our lives. Will the trend of Haldiness continue post Covid?

Suddenly, there is a burst of turmeric all around me. Just before the Covid lockdown began, my wife had begun making turmeric tea, crushing pieces of the fresh root, obtained from a nearby Farmers’ Market, into her cup of morning tea.

For now, the Farmers’ Market is temporarily closed, but the world of haldi has only opened even wider.

Last month, I read about Amul, one of India’s most popular brands, launching HaldiDoodh, or turmeric milk. Then, I saw bottles of branded “Pride of Cows” milk being delivered in some parts of Mumbai, along with free packs of Tata Sampann Haldi powder. And finally, when I heard our Finance Minister mention specifically turmeric latte in her announcement of the Government’s economic package, as an illustration of a big global trend, I knew that the time for turmeric has come.

Haldi belief system

This is the season of turmeric because this humble, yellow root appears to have reached the forefront of Indian consumers’ desire to build immunity against the coronavirus.

It has always been known in India as an immunity builder. Ancient traditional medicinal systems such as Ayurveda and Unani have used turmeric in their medications. With its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric has been an easily accessible home remedy, to treat toothache, inflammation, pain and colic. Most popularly, warm turmeric milk before going to bed has been known as a recipe for good health.

This “haldi” belief system is deeply ingrained amongst Indian consumers. Modern science has further reinforced this belief by informing us that all these medicinal properties of turmeric arise from curcumin, the active ingredient that this super-root contains.

No wonder, the popularity of haldi has spread from India to across the globe. In 2016, turmeric was named as a breakout star by Google Food Trends. Today, with health and immunity becoming even more important, there is no stopping the rush. Since news of the Covid-19 epidemic started emerging, exports of turmeric to Europe and West Asia have shot up by a whopping 300 per cent.

Haldiness every day

But let’s get back to turmeric latte, the hottest health craze today. It is so popular because it blends wellness, immunity and lifestyle into such a delicious cup.

The basic version of this drink brings together warm milk and turmeric powder (or fresh turmeric), you can make it very easily at home.

And then you can enhance the drink by adding black pepper, cinnamon and honey. Or, if you want to order one for yourself, you could ask Starbucks to send you their honey turmeric latte, where steamed milk and aromatic turmeric are poured over a shot of espresso, with options of almond or coconut milk.

That sounds lip-smacking-delicious, for sure.

Haldiness, as I would like to term this trend, is now extending its appeal from milk and lattes to many other reaches of our kitchens. I have watched with great interest how Tata Sampann Haldi has been catalysing this trend through its innovative #HarDinHaldi (#EveryDayTurmeric) campaign, aimed at popularising the use of turmeric in many easy and tasty recipes.

On Youtube and other digital media, this campaign teaches us how to make mouth-watering turmeric pancakes, curries, teas and smoothies.

Consumers appear to have responded with great enthusiasm, with TikTok alone featuring over 300 user-generated “turmeric recipe” videos, translating into more than 25 million views.

If popular brands such as Amul and Tata are catalysing the daily use of haldi amongst the large Indian middle class, there are also interesting examples of high-end brands riding this trend.

For instance, Raw Pressery, the cold-pressed juices brand, has launched a drink, aptly named “HEAL”, which combines exotic ingredients such as cayenne, coconut milk, pineapple and turmeric. You can guzzle down this tiny 125-ml bottle in just a minute, or you can sip this healing drink, at leisure.

And then you have the Bonn Group, a reputed bakery manufacturer, launching its Herb and Seeds bread, which is made with turmeric, oregano, black pepper, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, to help regulate the immune system and aid in quick healing. Never before had I heard of a loaf of bread that contains haldi.

So where is Haldiness headed? Many more marketers, for sure, will take note of this trend. Can we soon expect toothpaste with haldi in it, or many more skin-care products that feature turmeric? Many of us still remember the golden age of Vicco Turmeric skin cream, which continues to be popular in some parts of the country.

Stretching our marketing minds a little further, can we now imagine what Haldi Pasta or noodles would look like, or how Indian snacks such as bhujia can be infused with a little more turmeric?

Would premium lifestyle retail stores and luxury hotels across the country soon offer haldi welcome drinks to their customers, instead of water or a fruit drink, as a further commitment to customers’ health and immunity? And finally, which Indian brands will occupy the high ground on haldi ?

It is still early days for age-old turmeric. Keep watching this golden yellow space.

And, in the meantime, to beat the stress of the lockdown, do sit back sometimes and enjoy your turmeric latte!

The author is the Brand Custodian, Tata Sons. He acknowledges inputs from Sreelakshmi Hariharan, Tata Sons, in the writing of this article. bhatharish@hotmail.com

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Published on May 28, 2020
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