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COVID Impact | FMCG firms rush to launch sugar-free, low-calorie products as demand shoots up

There is a rapid increase in demand for less sugary and immunity-boosting products, as more and more Indians seek solutions to boost overall health and wellbeing.

December 15, 2020 / 01:58 PM IST
V2 Retail: Bennett Coleman & Company sold another 4.5 lakh shares in company at Rs 97.5 per share on the BSE.

V2 Retail: Bennett Coleman & Company sold another 4.5 lakh shares in company at Rs 97.5 per share on the BSE.

The COVID pandemic has had some long-term learnings for the average consumer. This is evident from the new products launched in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) eatables segment that sees rising demand for healthy sugar-free or low-calorie products. Sugar is empty carbohydrate and inflammatory for the human body, which hampers the immune system in the long run.

The COVID-induced lockdown had reduced physical activity by more than half, and it has also prompted most health-conscious customers to turn to low-calorie or sugar-free food.

Sensing this new-found demand segment, FMCG firms are rushing to launch low-calorie, sugar-free products. The launches are much across product lines in both the snacks as well as health and wellness segments.

For some snacking quick bites, Mondelez has launched Cadbury Dairy chocolates with 30 percent less sugar and Bournvita Biscuits. In the ready-to-drink beverages segment, ITC has come up with B Natural plus that has vitamin additives and Marico has added ImmuniVeda, a turmeric and kanadha Concoction, to its product portfolio.

Dabur has added low-calorie juice packets to its Real Brand line. Danone launched zero-added sugar adult supplement variation under its Protinex brand which is being promoted as an immunity booster in its campaign.

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Mayank Kumar, Business Head (Foods), Dabur India, told Moneycontrol, "Calorie-conscious consumers are increasingly looking for beverages that bring out the natural goodness of fruits without the guilt of excessive 'calories' and we had the perfect offering in Real Activ ‘Low Cal’. A market first, the new Real Activ ‘Low Cal’ range will appeal to fitness and health-conscious consumers and the innovative Tetra Pak Craft packaging further strengthens the product’s credibility.”

A few years back, Dabur introduced ChyawanPrakash, a sugar-free variant of Chyawanprash, targeting the calorie-conscious consumer. ChyawanPrakash offers the goodness of Chyawanprash, in a sugar-free form that makes it more appealing to health-conscious consumers and is safe for diabetics.

The trend of healthy living and wellness lifestyle for the conscious consumer is catered to by Ayurveda brands. The sugar-free immunity-boosting Chyawanprash from Dabur, Badiyanath, Zandu, and Patanjalia available in the market sell at a premium to the regular product and seeing a demand surge.

“There has been a rapid increase in demand for less sugary and immunity-boosting products, as more and more Indians seek solutions to build overall health and wellbeing,” Himanshu Bakshi, Managing Director, Danone India, told Moneycontrol.

As India is among the top three countries with a high diabetic population, firms have started offering products that help in the effective management or prevention of the disease.

“COVID has accentuated the morbidity problem. If you have borderline diabetes that is 110 levels and if you are detected with COVID then diabetes shoots up to a level where one needs to take insulin. So, FMCG companies are capturing the opportunity to launch sugar-free products,” said N. Chandramouli, CEO of TRA Research, a consumer analytics and brand insights company.

The medical fraternity has also come around the point that for humans to handle the COVID situation well, an immunity-boosting lifestyle and healthy eating habits would be a game-changer.

The popular electronic and social media platforms are abuzz with health experts advocating immunity enhancement. This is especially significant as many face co-morbidity issues or acute respiratory syndromes after even recovering from COVID.
Himadri Buch
first published: Dec 11, 2020 08:10 pm

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