Godrej Sara Lee Ltd, makers of the Good Knight, Jet and Hit brands of mosquito repellent and insecticide, has ramped up its research and development to unsheathe new weapons to battle the household mosquito and insect menace.
Informed sources told that the company was planning to launch new products in the mosquito and pest control segment, apart from unveiling new variants of its existing Good Knight brands and Jet brands, in the course of the next few months.
According to the sources, the company was at present engaged in research for producing a new mosquito repellent, which, for the first time, would have a different delivery system. "At present, the repellents are triggered by heating either with fire (like in the coils) or by charging. But the new product will have no trigger — that is, it can work without heating and just by opening or closing the pack," the sources said.
This product is expected to add a new dimension to the mosquito repellent market, as it will be adding value to the convenience of usage and safety parameters. "Research on this new product is progressing well and it may take another six months to one year to launch it in the market," sources said.
Another new product that the R & D laboratory of Godrej Sara Lee is working on is mosquito coils that do not produce smoke. As there have been some reports of discomfiture because of the smoke and smell produced by mosquito coils (although the branded mosquito coils are claimed to be well within the safety norms of the Government in terms of chemical, biological and toxicological parameters), the on-going research effort is aimed at eliminating even this discomfiture.
These efforts are expected to significantly strengthen the market presence of the company, which now commands a 40 per cent share in the Rs 1,000-crore household insecticide market in India. About 90 per cent of this household insecticide market is accounted for by the repellent segment, be it either mats or coils, with only the remaining 10 per cent being in the `quick-kill' segment.
The company, which has an annual budget of over Rs 3 crore for R&D in the repellent segment, as part of its initiative to ramp up its research, has initiated a move to interact with scientists of Government-owned research institutes to give it proper direction in the long-term perspective.
The company recently set up a Scientific Advisory Counsel, involving eminent scientists in the field of pest control, to develop long-term strategies in the area of mosquito control. The key scientists in this panel include Dr. R. L. Rajak, former Plant Protection Advisor to the Government of India, Dr. R. Reuben, former Director of ICMR, Madurai, Dr. Subba Rao, former director of Malaria Research Centre, Delhi and Dr. Saptanekar, director of Haffkine Institute, Mumbai.
Apart from the growing market for mosquito repellent, the company's research is also taking into account the gloomy facts that about 40 million people die from diseases caused by mosquitoes annually in India, with two million cases of malaria reported from the country every year. Another disconcerting factor is that millions of malaria-infected people have started developing resistance to drugs.