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Flavour of health

Recently, Hindustan Unilever extended Kissan to Soya Juice in different fruit flavors. Known more as a fun brand, Kissan has for the first time been extended to a health plank. Rachit Vats reports. Health & Wellness foods in India | Key health & wellness food trends in India | Health & Wellness consumer segments

business Updated: Jun 27, 2011 01:27 IST
Rachit Vats

Recently, Hindustan Unilever extended Kissan to Soya Juice in different fruit flavors. Known more as a fun brand, Kissan has for the first time been extended to a health plank.

Taking digestive health to a new level, Kellogg's launched All Bran, a 100% whole wheat ready-to-eat cereal, targeted at women.

Retail shelves are also seeing the emergence of nutritional bars targeted at women looking at a power workout or playing lighter sports. General Mills, GlaxoSmithKline and Naturell now share space with other emerging players seeing the opportunity in the health space.

"The consumption of food products with functional benefits is going up. This is happening as more brands vie for the same shelf space and, in doing so, create a differentiation factor through the addition of one or more nutritional benefit," said Abheek Singhi, partner & director, The Boston Consulting Group (India). "There is extensive segmentation happening as brands try and create newer categories. There is a huge potential at the center of the pyramid," he added.

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While exact estimates for the size of functional food products is difficult to come by, the size of the packaged foods market in India is estimated at $10 billion, and expected to reach $20 billion by 2014. The share of packaged food in the food and grocery market is expected to touch 5% by the same time, according to industry figures. At least 25% of this is riding on functional benefits.

"The segmentation is market-driven. Brands are doing it to fulfill consumer needs. Competition among processed food brands is high as they work on getting more nutritious. The trend is very clear: unless companies give more value, they are not going to survive," said Vijay Uttarwar, CEO, Naturell India.

The company claims at success with nutrition bars for workouts, for woman, in sugarless options, and is now looking at launching specialised bars for various sports. "The nutrition bar industry is still nascent but growing fast as awareness among consumers picks up," said Uttarwar.

Kellogg says its research indicated that fibre intakes amongst women are between 25-30 grams during the day, whereas they are between one and two grams for breakfast. This is below the recommended dietary guidelines for Indian women, which is 40 grams/2000 kcals - a desirable 10 grams for the breakfast meal. This prompted the company to launch All Bran.

"Different consumers have different needs. We are looking at rolling out various need-based products after mapping out consumer needs," said Vikram Bahl, marketing director, Kellogg's India. "We are building a category here. We'll roll out products for different needs."

Hindustan Unilever (HUL) has been carrying out an extensive sampling exercise for Kissan Soya Juice. It is about to launch Kissan Soya Milk. "There is an increasing trend of consumers making healthy choices in their food consumption. In line with our strategy, we have leveraged Unilever's existing knowledge and expertise in soya beverages globally along with our understanding of local consumer preferences to bring this exciting new range to India, where our wet sampling has worked well, generating trial," said a HUL spokesperson.

In the recent past, Britannia extended its health biscuit brand, NutriChoice, to the Diabetic Friendly Essentials range, after establishing it with the Hi Fibre and Multi Grain ranges. For the Rs 3,400-crore company, the move is part of a much bigger strategy.

"In the last three years, health and wellness (H&W) has become a key driver for Britannia. At least 55% of our turnover now comes from this category," said Anuradha Narasimhan, category director - H&W, Britannia Industries. The company has seen high growth - of at least 30% - in adult H&W food products.

"This foray into specialised functional foods is fuelled by a rising demand for such products. One in eight Indian adults either has diabetes or is at high risk of it. There is a clear market need for such products," Narasimhan added.

"H&W will be one of the mega trends driving the transformation of the packaged foods market in India. There will be more segmentation and the thrust will from large players, as they have the distribution channels and brand development capabilities," said Devendra Chawla, head - private brands and food services, Future Group.

According to him, for categories perceived as less healthy, 'better-for-you' variants will succeed, while for the perceived neutral or healthy categories, functional variants will succeed.

Nestle, seeing a lot of competition for Maggi, is opting for healthier extensions such as Maggi Atta and Maggi Multigrainz noodles.

According to a recent Euromonitor report, H&W in India is being driven by increasing consumer awareness, more importantly the trend of "avoidance and beneficial health". As Indian consumers respond to the H&W idea, new products are finding their way into their consciousness and onto retail shelves.

Yakult Danone India, the 50:50 joint venture of Yakult Honsha, Japan, and Groupe Danone, France, has launched the Yakult probiotic drink (endorsed by actor Kajol in its ads). The brand has a range of H&W products globally which, no doubt, will also be introduced in India.

Health & Wellness foods in India | Key health & wellness food trends in India | Health & Wellness consumer segments