Several food companies are taking advantage of the International Year of Millet in 2023, including Britannia, Wholsum Foods, and Symega Food Ingredients, by either expanding their product lines or improving their existing products using millets, according to stakeholders.

There are many new items coming out this year, according to Shauravi Malik, Co-founder, Wholsum Foods Pvt Ltd, which owns the millet-based food brands Slurrp Farm and Millé.

She said, “We plan to introduce millet-based snacks, ragi cookies, and other items under our kids’ brand Slurrp Farm. As for Millé, we want to bring millets to the center of people’s plates; the idea is to make millet a ubiquitous ingredient.”

Malik added, “An increased level of awareness about eating millets, the need for both nutrition and food security, and the importance of having food that we can grow without a lot of water, pesticides, or fertiliser has led to the growth and popularity of millet-based products.”

FMCG giant Britannia, which sells millets-based products under the NutriChoice brand, says it will continue to build the brand through product innovation.

Sudhir Nema, Chief Development & Quality Officer, Britannia Industries Limited said, “We are innovating on functional ingredients and foods by incorporating more super grains, seeds, nuts, and fruits with whole grains and processing technologies. We are also engaging with our partners and looking for appropriate opportunities in this evolving space.”

‘Superfoods’

In 2020, India produced 12,490 million tonnes of millets, and accounted for 41 per cent of the world’s share, according to the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA).

“Millets are referred as superfoods for being gluten-free and for having micronutrients. Moreover, millets are rich in dietary fibre and have a resistant starch that works as a prebiotic. In fact, people are willing to pay a premium, often to the tune of more than 50 per cent, in their conscious pursuit of optimum nutrition,” said Nema.

The global superfoods market size in 2020 was $172 billion, and it is expected to reach $287 billion by 2027, he added.

Symega Food Ingredients, which is engaged in manufacturing and marketing natural colours, flavours and savoury blends, has added alternative milk from various kinds of grains and millets.

“As this year is the International Year of Millets, we see a lot of traction on millet-based products. In fact, we have developed milk out of various millets like Jowar, Bajra, Barley, and more,” said Santosh Stephen, Managing Director, Symega Food Ingredients.

It offers its products by partnering with brands and start-ups, and co-develop and co-manufacture them under their label.

Consumer acceptance

Tata Consumer Soulfull Pvt Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Consumer Products Limited, also sells millet-based food products under the Tata Soulfull brand.

While participating in the fourth edition of Millets & Organics-International Trade Fair 2023, held in Bengaluru, Prashant Parameswaran, MD and CEO, Tata Consumer Soulfull, said, “We expect that millets will gradually evolve to become a mainstream category, and with 2023 being celebrated as the International Year of Millets, the acceptance for this grain will significantly grow among consumers.”

Parameswaran added, “Our product range, which includes snacking, mini meals, and breakfast cereal, is positioned to cater to the trend, and we look forward to making our products available to more consumers across the country.”

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