At an address in New Delhi, Narendra Modi said the move would benefit farmers in the long-term.
"Why can't 2% natural juice be mixed in aerated drinks? This would provide farmers a market for their produce," Modi said, adding that he had raised the idea with industry executives.
Judging by subsequent press coverage, the suggestion has not gone down well with the companies that could be affected.
"It's impossible to add fruit juice in all our existing products; it will ruin our trademark formula," a senior executive at a cola company told Economic Times. "But we are working on a few additional variants with juice-and-carbonated blends.”
Other companies said the suggestion, if implemented, would severely hurt an industry that is already concerned by a proposal to implement a punitive “sin” levy on sales of soft drinks under the anticipated goods and services tax.
The government’s chief economic advisor, Arvind Subramanian, last month recommended a 40% sum to be added to such beverages, alongside luxury cars and tobacco products.
"If [both the juice addition and sin tax] happen, the soft drinks industry will become sick,” ET reported another industry source as saying.
“The other challenge is that adding juice will radically reduce the shelf life of fizzy drinks. Aerated drinks have a shelf life of four-six months, but juices come with a shelf life of one to three months at the most.
“In case of colas, it's tough to develop a juice-blended variant. That hasn't been done anywhere in the world.”
More stories from south Asia…
FSSAI sets out tougher regulatory red tape for imports
India’s food regulator has introduced stricter requirements across a number of food safety logistical practices in a bid to prevent sub-standard products from entering the country.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) issued a “notice for operationalisation” of the Food Safety and Standards (Food Import) Regulations, 2016 for food importers, amending regulations for licensing, documentation, packaging and labelling.
It has also issued rules governing the suspension or cancellation of food importers’ licences.
Such companies will now need to submit recall plans and applications of clearance.
These documents must also include declarations that the the imports are permitted for human consumption in their country of origin, as well their regulatory status in the location of a parent company, if this is different to the location of manufacture.
Food importers will also have to submit the list of transit countries through which their products have transited before reaching India, as well as temperature profile reports when the refrigerated goods are shipped.
Inspection officers will now verify if special storage conditions are complied with. The regulations also offer a review process for aggrieved food importers, while all receivers will be required to be present at customs areas during inspection.
“In the event of the food importer or his custom house agent not being present to facilitate the inspection and sampling in spite of two opportunities having been granted, the authorised officer will refuse to grant further opportunity for inspection and sampling of the food consignment,” state the regulations.
“Any further appointment in this behalf may be granted by the chief executive or his authorised representative after the levy of a suitable penalty on the food importer as may be prescribed by the authority from time to time.”
Research council: Labels don’t inform Indians of what they are eating
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has called for stricter regulations to be applied to the labelling of packaged food in a bid to prevent non-communicable diseases that account for a quarter of premature deaths in the country.
The ICMR’s director general said better labelling to reduce sugar and salt intake would help prevent conditions like diabetes, heart disease, stroke, hypertension and obesity.
“This could help a lot because people don't know what they are eating,” said Soumya Swaminathan.
According to Dr Swaminathan, India’s average per-capita intake of salt is 20g, whereas only 5g is required under World Health Organisation guidelines.
“These are policy matters and government is working on them,” she added.
Meanwhile, a diabetes study by the ICMR of 17 states suggests that 10-15% of Indians are diabetic and an equal number pre-diabetic.
“The top-most risk factor today is high blood pressure, diabetes and both indoor and outdoor air-pollution," said Dr Swaminathan.
Snack multinational joins charity to arrest Indian food and malnutrition issues
Mars is joining the Tata Trusts in a joint-venture to advance agricultural development, address malnutrition, and improve food safety in India.
The American company plans to work with the Indian coalition of philanthropic trusts to develop methods and tools to increase crop productivity, farm income and sustainability of select agriculture commodities.
The two organisations will also collaborate on the availability of safe, affordable and sustainable raw materials from India.
The global food and confectionery brand’s Mars Food segment also intends to conduct joint research with the Tata Trusts on nutritional guidelines that can help address anaemia and other forms of malnutrition.
“We are particularly inspired by Mars Food’s commitment to addressing malnutrition in India: a challenge of growing concern in this country, particularly among children,” said Ratan Tata, the trusts’ chairman.
Mars and the Tata Trusts also plan to collaborate on reducing aflatoxin contamination in India’s supply chain.
Aflatoxin, a naturally occurring, poisonous chemical produced by certain moulds, is a critical food safety issue in India. Mars has unique expertise in addressing this form of contamination and can draw on its global food safety centre in China to conduct future research in this area.
“Tata Trusts’ strong commitment to improving the quality of life in India, and the depth and breadth of their expertise, makes them a natural partner for Mars,” said Fiona Dawson, president of Mars Food.
Processed foods push emulsifiers to double market size by 2020
India’s food emulsifiers market reached a value of US$53.4m in 2013, and is projected to grow at an annual rate of 10.1% from 2015 to 2020, according to a new report.
The Research & Markets analysis predicts the market to be worth US$104.5m by 2020, having grown in tandem with the processed food industry.
Increasingly busy urban middle-class lifestyles have propelled the market for manufactured products, especially convenience foods, thereby spawning a rise in demand for food emulsifiers, the report said.
The segment’s leading players include Archer Daniels Midland, DuPont and Cargill from America, and Gujarat Ambuja, Vippy Soya and Ambika Solvex on the domestic front.
These companies have been adopting strategies such as acquisitions, expansions and investments, as well as new product launches, to strengthen their position in the market.