Almost 100% of Danone's portfolio lies in health today: Himanshu Bakshi

Bakshi, the MD of Danone India, explained that as a responsible food brand, the company wants a positive impact on lives beyond just profits and toplines

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Aug 2, 2021 2:15 PM
himanshu bakshi

Himanshu Bakshi, Managing Director, Danone India in his special address at the virtual Pitch Brand Talk Summit 2021, spoke about the health concerns in India, protein deficiencies in the diet, and how Danone as a brand has been working towards building a healthy India. He delivered a talk on the topic "Nudging India To Eat Healthy."

Danone India, the house of products like Farex, Dexolac, Nusobee, and Protinex, follows a mission of bringing health through food to as many people as possible, said Bakshi. 

Speaking about the health scenario in India, Bakshi shared that when it comes to the health status of most Indians it is quite worrisome. “There have been talks around health, wellness or lifestyle diseases but when we look at numbers some of them are really shocking. 

Over 20% of people have cholesterol, now India is becoming a diabetic capital of the world with 40 million-plus diabetics, 50 million-plus people have cardiovascular issues, protein deficient, hypertension. While these are all diseases that impact us physically and what we really eat define what is going to happen to us.” He further added that we always have a lot of assumptions and myths in our minds when we say we are eating very well. 

He said it's the responsibility of food organizations, companies, and brands to bring all the issues out in the open and address them. “There are profit objectives and every organization wants to deliver on their objective of revenue and profit but the question is if that's enough as a brand. Is that what you really want to deliver? At Danon, we think it's not only about profits or getting your topline in. What is important is that as a brand plays a positive role and impact people lives positively.”

He further explained that when we talk about brands we always discuss how my brand is different from the others but it's important that brands have a point of view. “Market share fight is something that will always happen but what the brand stands for is more important. As a brand it's very easy to play very tactically; it's very easy to start taking thinking off-brand as a property, which will go out there address consumer needs and get profit out of that. I think brands need to stand for something, it should have a clear purpose, and unless any brand does that there is no real meaning of brand being out there in the market.”

He also mentioned that Danone’s mission is bringing health through food to as many people as possible. “The keywords here are health and food. We don’t see food as something that fills people’s stomachs, we are talking about a larger platform. Whatever offering comes from Danone should be addressing strong health needs unless we tick mark on that I don’t think we will be launching any brand in the future. Therefore most of our products are completely in line with our mission.”     

“We do have our strategy and a lot of commitments that we make as an organization. Success for us is not only growing in good on topline and make profits but push and nudge people to adopt healthy eating and drinking habits. And I think that's the role that we intend to play in India and that is what have been doing globally. The first thing we need to offer people is better quality products. It's also about being local, there are a lot of local nuances and it's important to recognize those needs. At the end of the day, it's all about being proud of the portfolio that you offer to people something that I will give my family.”  

Bakshi also told that they aim at demonstrating a positive impact on consumption habits and diet quality. “Almost 100% of our portfolio lies in health today. Whatever we have launched in India so far and whatever we will launch next has always been extremely healthy. It's a choice that we want people to have whenever they talk about nutrients. They should know whatever coming from this organisation will always follow health.”

Talking about health, Bakshi, mentioned the one agenda Danone has picked up as an organization that is important to address- protein deficiency. Around four years back, a big survey happened which showed that more than 70% of the Indian diet are protein deficient and protein is one of the key building blocks for each one of us, said Bakshi. 

He informed that in the last five years, Danone has been doing a lot of work to educate people with stakeholders and agencies to make sure that there is enough noise around the fact that people are made aware that there is a lack of protein in their diet. 

Bakshi mentioned the three steps that the company has taken to make sure that there is enough noise. “As a responsible food organisation, we need to give better products to people. Unless we do that, brands are not ready to live up to the mission they have. Power of partnerships- one company alone can not take this journey forward, it has to be a holistic approach. For instance, we work very closely with CII (Confederation of Indian Industry), Fitterfly, the protein week. We have reached 100 million people so far and still a lot needs to be done. The third one is more to do with the consumers- most of us even don’t know that we have a lack of protein in our diet. We work with some tools and services that will help people to understand their deficiencies.” 

Bakshi concluded, “It's not one company that can make an impact, all stakeholders should come together,  the more we talk about it, the more people will be aware. If we can do that the nutritional profiles or the health profiles of people in India will be much greater, and the quality of life will be better. That's one commitment that I take forward, as the managing director of Danone to keep working on it and we will make sure that we keep giving you healthier nutritional choices.” 

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