When Indra Nooyi visited India last month, first time after she took over as Pepsico chief, she carried her company's health message for Indian consumers. The message was clear - reduce fats, sugar and salt in treats, soft drinks and potato chips. This doesn't come as a surprise.
Today, the health agenda seems to have invaded most FMCG companies' drawing boards. If Pepsi India has reduced oil by 25% and asked its R&D centre in Gurgaon to minimise calories and caffeine in its colas, the other FMCG majors are not far behind.
Almost every company worth its salt is using the health platform at the core of its product development initiatives. So if Nestle has launched Lite variant of its wafer-chocolate brand Kit-Kat and is in the process of launching healthy soups Sanjeevini under the brand Maggi, it is but an extension of what most FMCG and food marketers aim to do today - ride the health and wellness wave.
Similarly, soft drink concentrate maker Rasna is developing two drinks for health freaks. The trend, which ET pointed out two years ago, is gathering storm encompassing almost all food marketers in the country.
Cadilla has stormed the butter turf with margarine brand Nutralite. The company wants to establish Nutralite as a healthier alternative to butter and capture 8-10% of the Rs 800-crore branded butter market in the next two years.
Earlier, it had launched Free D'Lite (a sugar free drink) and has lately upped promotional spends on Sugar Free and Natura significantly.
Pepsi wants a place on the Indian households' breakfast table with Quaker Oats even as Kellogg has upped its stake there with the launch of Kellogg Muesli. All through last year Kellogg has actively innovated on both its products and packaging to leverage the health wave that's sweeping India especially in the urban pockets, with Rs 10 packs of its corn flakes positioned as a healthy snacking option.
Amul, Frito-Lay, Marico to name just a few, are all busy expanding their product basket and fortifying them with launches that have clear “health” connotations.
Albeit the interesting fact is that 'better-for-you' products only constitute 10% of the sales world over and even lesser in India. “While consumers want that health alternative, they may not be quick to latch onto it,” says Frito Lay India MD Manu Anand. Incidentally, the company has completely erased trans fats and mono sodium gultamate from its product portfolio.
ITC Foods has launched Sunfeast Sachin's Fit Kit range of health products. The company signed on Sachin in an innovative co-creation that reflects this focus on health and fitness. This new sub-brand from ITC Foods will own the platform of active health, the company announced over a month back.
According to ITC Foods' divisional CEO Ravi Navare, urban India's increasing health consciousness is driving this change. “As Indians will move from health awareness to health knowledge, mass products can reap the benefits by stepping on the health platform,” says a Mumbai-based independent marketing consultant Sukanya Kripalu.
Last month, Himalaya launched a range of curative teas, which include GreenTea, SleepTea, StressTea, LeanTea, LaxaTea & KofTea. It is being positioned as medicinal tea for specific health concerns. According to Rasna MD Piruz Khambata, who is also the chairman of CII's National Food Process council, companies want to leverage health platform for two purposes.
“It not just makes consumer happy amidst all the negative stories about unhealthy foods floating around, but also enhances the perceived value of the products on the shelves and they don't mind spending a little more,” he says.