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“We intend creating products in sync with local tastes”
Monday, 20 January, 2020, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Danone is a leading global food and beverage company built on four businesses: Essential dairy and Plant-based products, Waters, Early life nutrition and Medical nutrition. The company is able to create both, shareholder and societal value, with products sold in over 120 markets. From yogurts sold in the pharmacies of Barcelona to a range of foods and drinks enjoyed by millions of people across the world. Last year, the company exited dairy business in India. However, it continues to explore newer areas in the Indian market with its flagship brand Protinex. For instance, making Protinex, a powder brand, take up a biscuits avatar - Bytes. In an email interview with Ranjana Sharma, Deepali Agarwal, marketing director, Danone India, delves deeper into the workings and the challenges faced by the company in India in the current scenario. Excerpts:

Tell us briefly about Protinex. What kind of sales are you looking at in the new fiscal?
It is a trusted brand with a history of more than 60 years. It is the No.1 adult nutrition brand in India. Its portfolio exists in illness, wellness and fitness space. The brand offers a diverse portfolio of products suited for specific needs, tastes & lifestyles such as Tasty Chocolate, Mango, Kesar Badam and Lite that are scientifically formulated to help in weight and diabetes management. It has the highest fibre content and lowest glycemic index which helps in overall fitness as well. The brand’s Original is made with hydrolysed protein – a unique technology that helps in 50% faster absorption of protein in the body. Its Mama is a specialised protein nutrition for pregnant and lactating mothers. Keeping pace with evolving consumer lifestyle, the company also launched Bytes - The-Go Protein Diskettes.

What are the different and innovative products offered by you?
We want to make a meaningful impact to the health of people both in early stages of life and as adults. With adult nutrition, we are focussed on bringing innovations which help in overall wellness and fitness amidst evolving consumer lifestyle. Thus, we launched Lite with zero added sugar in response to consumer insights and FSSAI’s Eat Right initiative, and Bytes for ‘on the go’ protein consumption.
In infant nutrition, we are committed to bringing in high science-based formulas. This year we launched Aptamil with Prebiotics, the first infant formula with GOS:FOS in 9:1 ratio in India. We have global expertise in the science of prebiotics with over 40 years of research on impact of prebiotic in improving gut health and immunity among infants.

There are many protein-based products in market, how is your brand different from other nutrition drinks in the market?
As a leading adult health food drinks brand in India, it has addressed the protein needs of Indian consumers for over six decades. It continues to be the most prescribed protein supplement in India. The Original contains hydrolysed protein which enables faster digestion and absorption of protein in body. It has clinically proven faster recovery during illness and better health related quality of life. It provides good nutrition and strength with the right amount of proteins and carbohydrates, fortified with minerals, vitamins and antioxidants.

Tell us about the R&D that goes into your products.
Research and innovation is at the core of our business. We have developed a large product portfolio which is focussed on healthy categories. Our research and innovation capabilities allow us to offer a wide variety of products that respond to different consumers requirements. Our product innovation is backed by research which focusses on consumer research as well as clinical trials. This enables us to develop high-quality, clinically proven relevant products and continue to improve our product portfolio. We are always introducing products in a format that makes it more relevant for our consumers. The intent is to create products which are in sync with local tastes and preferences. We call this process Indovation. We have recently launched two new products which are an example of our research and innovation. Aptamil Prebiotics which has unique FOS: GOS and Lite - a zero added sugar, high protein variant of Protinex.

Are you planning to launch any products overseas as well? If yes, tell us about the same, and the geographies.
We are a global organisation and our mission is to bring health through food to as many people as possible. Thus, we are always open to launching products across geographies if they serve the local consumer needs.

What are your strategies before taking the product to the market?
We design our products so that they offer healthier choices by combining two criteria: superior product experience for the consumer and superior nutritional quality. Our approach is aimed at enhancing the nutritional quality of our products and categories, by improving their nutritional profile. The intention is to encourage substitution towards healthier product alternatives.

What is your primary objective regarding nutrition business in view of the changing trends?
Nutrition is the thread that binds our product portfolio in India which covers products across different life stages from infant nutrition to adult nutrition. We want to make a positive impact on everybody’s life. We feel that millions of people underestimate the role of nutrition on their health and therefore grapple with sub-optimal health which can be eschewed. Through our products, we want to inspire healthier eating and drinking practices among consumers.

You have launched Bytes. Explain the idea behind it.
Bytes is rich in protein, vitamins, minerals and multigrains and is a healthier and convenient option.

With Bytes, our objective is to take the brand’s consumption out of home, making it more convenient and accessible for our consumers which helps them get closer to their daily protein requirement ‘on the go’ anytime, anywhere.

There are many protein-based products for pregnant ladies, how Mama is different from others in the market?
Mama is a protein nutrition supplement which provides good quantity and quality of proteins to meet the increased requirements of the mother and the growing baby. 

Besides protein, Mama is fortified with folic acid, iron, calcium, DHA and other nutrients which are vital for the growth and development of the baby.

What are your plans for the brand regarding expansions, mergers and acquisitions?
Innovation is at the heart of our growth strategy. Our innovation ideas are driven by evolving consumer needs that we can meaningfully serve. We understand that active adults in India have nutrition deficiencies and we will look for solution to fulfil these gaps in a combination of categories and formats.
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