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Urban India gets going on probiotic products

business Updated: Jun 19, 2008 23:13 IST
Saurabh Turakhia
Saurabh Turakhia
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

There are a number of definitions that describe the word probiotic – the latest buzzword for the health conscious. Online encyclopedia wikipedia.org says probiotics are dietary supplements containing potentially beneficial bacteria or yeasts. FAO/WHO define it as: ‘Live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host’.

But for the dairy industry, probiotic products — whether milk, ice-cream or yogurt — is synonymous with expected profits from an increasingly health conscious urban market as they come with a 15-20 per cent price markup over ‘normal’ pruducts.

While it is early days yet to comment on the success of these products, they are unanimous that probiotics are gaining ground in urban areas.

RS Sodhi, chief general manager, Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) that markets its products under the brand name Amul says: “Probiotic products contribute to 10 per cent to our ice-cream sales and 25 per cent of our Dahi sales.”

“Consumer acceptance of our probiotic dahi and fruit yogurts (with real fruit juice) is very good and the volumes are growing in double digits. Internationally, the average contribution of probiotic products to total dairy products is estimated between 10 and 20 per cent depending on the country and business,” says Mayank Trivedi, general manager (Dairy), Nestle India.

Mother Dairy’s CEO Paul Thachil echoes the positive outlook. “Probiotic products are contributing to 15 per cent of the turnover of our fresh dairy products. Over the next 3-4 years, the contribution may go up to 25 per cent,” he says. And the urban acceptance is making these companies increase their focus on probiotic products.

Anand Shah, FMCG analyst at Angel Broking puts things in perspective: “Probiotic curd as well as milk have been well accepted in the market. These products are urban-centric and since they are premium products, low volumes are not a worry. This segment is clearly growing.”

Industry players agree that creating awareness about the probiotic products and the benefits they offer is a priority.

Says Trivedi: “As more and more consumers become health-conscious, this market is expected to grow faster.”