In a nascent but growing probiotic market for health-conscious, affluent urban consumers, Japan's Yakult Honsha and France's Danone Group are hoping to take on entrenched players such as Nestle, Mother Dairy and Amul.
Probiotic foods that use bacteria to nurture good health are just about taking off, but ambitions are high.
Yakult Danone India, a 50-50 joint venture, has invested Rs. 136 crore to set up a factory at Rai in Haryana and would start selling its fermented milk in December.
"The company targets to sell one million bottles of Yakult (per day) in three to five years," Kiyoshi Oike, the joint venture's managing director, told Hindustan Times. Danone's own probiotic products will be launched eventually at a different manufacturing site.
Yakult, in which Danone holds 20 per cent, operates in 29 countries, while Danone's probiotics drink Actimel has become a successful probiotic drink in European markets
Nestle India, Mother Dairy and Amul, other leading dairy product players in India, have already launched their yoghurt-based products and hope to have an early advantage in a market that has high purchasing power.
Yakult Danone believes that the probiotics market in India is in nascent stage and there is enough room for all the existing players.
It aims at keeping glitzy advertising to a minimum and prefers to educate consumer about the benefits of a probiotic drink through person-to-person contacts.
About 100 women will evangelise Yakult's drinks by March next year, visiting housewives and offices.