India Focus: Unilever India, plant-based dairy terms, RTD cocktails and more feature in our round-up

By Pearly Neo

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Unilever India, plant-based dairy terms, RTD cocktails and more feature in this edition of India Focus. ©Getty Images
Unilever India, plant-based dairy terms, RTD cocktails and more feature in this edition of India Focus. ©Getty Images

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Unilever India, plant-based dairy terms, RTD cocktails and more feature in this edition of India Focus.

Premium push: Unilever India believes food sector growth lies in higher-priced value-added products

Hindustan Unilever India (HUL) has highlighted a continued focus on its premium strategy in order to sustain continued growth in the country, citing products such as Horlicks Plus as a major example.

HUL recently announced its Q3FY2023 financial results ending 31 December 2023, reporting near-flat percentage growth of 0.1% to INR154.6bn (US$1.86bn) and a -2% drop in Profits After Tax to INR34.6bn (US$416.4mn).

The firm attributed the drop in profits to both its attempts to bring end-product prices down for tea, as well as ongoing climate and economic challenges.

“We have taken price cuts in the past few quarters in commodity-linked categories [in order] to pass on the benefits of lower material prices to our consumers,”​ HUL CFO Ritesh Tiwari told the floor at an investors conference announcing the financial results.

‘No clarity’: India plant-based milk brands veer away from conventional dairy terms

Plant-based dairy brands in India are continuing to steer away from using conventional dairy terms on their product labels until regulators issue greater clarity on what is permitted.

Back in 2020 and 2021, the Food Safety and Standards Authority India (FSSAI) announced a ban on the use​ of conventional dairy terms such as ‘milk’ and ‘cheese’ for plant-based products. It also directed plant-based manufacturers to modify the product labels of all such products and e-commerce platforms to delist these​ as well.

This order was successfully stayed​ by the Delhi High Court later in 2021 after five companies took action. Despite this, industry uncertainty remains today.

“The ban is essentially still a motion in hearing at the court level at this time,”​ Rohit Jain, Co-Founder and CEO of Drums Food International which was one of the five companies that contributed to the initial ban being stayed, told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

Building a community: How Indian startup Salud Beverages is driving expansion in ready-to-drink cocktails

Indian startup Salud Beverages is expanding its range of ready-to-drink alcoholic drinks, while also branching out into a fashion line, music playlists, and a collection of NFTs, as it seeks to appeal to consumers new to the market.

With over 65% of India’s population below the age of 35, a demographic wielding increasing spending power in personal care and entertainment. The younger generation, characterised by a preference for convenience, seeks streamlined experiences.

Whether purchasing drinks at a neighbourhood liquor store or during the COVID-19 pandemic when home consumption surged, the demand for hassle-free enjoyment persisted. This is the market gap that Salud Beverages wants to tap into.

Wellness enhancement: How combined hemp and Ayurveda innovation could hold key to capturing mass market

India’s Hemp Horizons believes that a innovation approach combining the nutrition of hemp seeds with the wellness benefits of Ayurveda could hold the key to the sector appealing to a larger consumer base.

Food regulators in markets across Asia, notably India and Thailand, have loosened restrictions on hemp seeds and related products in recent years, with consumer interest also growing amid a strong health and wellness focus.

Hemp seeds boast a whole host of nutritional benefits from being high in protein and omega fatty acids to being anti-oxidative.

India’s ProV Foods taps into unseized opportunities in functional and convenient snacking

Mumbai-headquartered ProV Foods is doubling down on healthy on-the-go snacks and flavour innovations, amid rising demand for snacks with functional benefits in the country.

There are several categories that remain untapped in India’s nascent healthy snacking sector, according to Shalin Khanna, co-founder and CMO of ProV Foods​.

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