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Trends & innovations in food technology during the pandemic
Wednesday, 09 September, 2020, 16 : 00 PM [IST]
Srushty Patil
During the novel coronavirus pandemic, it’s more important for a human being than ever to incorporate positive lifestyle habits that can help the human stay healthy and boost their immune system, the body’s complex system that fights infection and disease. The current scenario trending is ‘immunity boosting’ because the consumers are worried about their health and are trying to maintain social distancing during the pandemic.

Consumers did not buy the regular food product which is already available in the market and main focus is on the health and immunity booster products which are made at home especially organic ones or supplements like vitamin D, zinc, and elderberry can improve immune function. So more demanding of immunity-boosting products, most of the food companies change their product strategy toward the research and development of new innovative products that fulfil the demand of the consumer.

Turmeric milk, which became popular in the US a few years ago as “turmeric latte,” is a traditional household beverage in India with roots dating back almost 4,000 years. Turmeric contains curcumin, a flavonoid, which supports a healthy immune response. Many food companies produce innovative products by adding or fortification of turmeric into the products.

Tulsi leaves contain Oleanolic acid, Ursolic acid, Rosmarinic acid, Eugenol, Carvacrol, Linalool, ß-caryophyllene, and antioxidant present which may relieve symptoms of asthma, bronchitis, colds, congestion, coughs, flu, sinusitis, sore throat and have been used extensively for many years in food products. Ginger contains Gingerol, the main bioactive compound, responsible for much of its medicinal properties. It has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects and highly effective against nausea. Based upon this immunity booster, food companies innovate their products.

Gujarat-based Amul has doubled down on its immunity-boosting range amid coronavirus pandemic as demand booms for such products. The company has announced the launch of Haldi or Turmeric Ice Cream. It also contains pepper, honey and dry fruits such as dates, almonds and cashews and has plans to roll out two more products like Immuno Chakra Ice Cream which is health trinity of Haldi-Ginger-Tulsi in tri-colour Ice Cream stick of 60 ml and Star Anise Doodh in 200 ml. This is not the first time that Amul has rolled out products in the immunity building category. Haldi Doodh, Ginger Doodh and Tulsi Doodh, which were also launched by Amul during the coronavirus pandemic.

On June 8, Noida-based milk products maker Mother Dairy launched a new turmeric-flavoured drink in butterscotch flavour, which helps to boost immunity against the virus. The main aim of the company is the immunity boost trend is going on and people move towards organic food. Besides, several cafes across the country, including Chaayos is producing “Healthy dudh or healthy chay”, Starbucks is producing “Honey-Healthy latte, Soya Chap, Kada and vitamin C rasbhari”, Cafe Coffee Day is producing “Healthy latte” and ChaiPoint is producing “Ajwain sauf chay, Lemongrass chay, Kashmiri Kahava”.

Along with this, Coca Cola also producing immunity-boosting drink under its master brand Minute Maid, introduced two new products which claim to deliver some of the daily essential nutrition requirements, extracted from fruits grown by Indian farmers such as Minute Maid Nutriforce and Minute Maid Vita Punch energy drink. This food technology companies introduced newer products and rebranded their existing offerings to highlight immunity building benefits. Marketers are out there with a vengeance to tweak their offerings attuned to a new want, a new desire, and a new craving.

For Dabur India Ltd, the demand for Ayurveda-based items of Chyawanprash, has experienced 400% increase as well as the demand for honey went up by 80% and the company launched immunity boosters like Tulsi drop, Aamla juice and Giloy-Neem-Tulsi juice. ITC has released a promotional song to promote its dairy brand, Ashirwad Swasti. Bisleri has embarked on promoting its popular product of packaged water as being fortified “with extra minerals”. FMCG major Hindustan Unilever Ltd has also rebranded its popular product, Horlicks, and started promoting it by adding vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc in the energy-boosting drink. Most of the manufacturers are also promoting their brands on social media in a big way.

Recently Karnataka Deputy CM Ashwathnarayan launches products to ‘mitigate’ Covid-19 spread include immunity-booster chapati, tea, daily drops, a chewable tablet by startups at the Bangalore Bioinnovation Centre (BBC), a joint initiative of the Karnataka Innovation and Technology Society (KITS) and Departments of Electronics, Information Technology, Biotechnology, and Science and Technology, Government of Karnataka, under Atmanirbhar Bharat.

Beam Roti is an immunity booster chapati having a mixture of herbs also recommended by the Ayush Ministry. It contains the ingredients of this Indian bread product that has been prepared using supercritical fluid extraction technology to ensure the optimum concentration of herbal extract reaches the body. The chapatis are easy to store and have a good shelf life and give innovative immune boost products.

Malli’s Cordytea developed by Mallipatra Nutraceuticals, this immunity-booster tea is prepared from cordyceps mushroom, a variety with medicinal characters. The mushroom is grown under laboratory conditions and is developed to make tea out of it. Cordycepin, an active ingredient in the same is known to have anti-viral properties too making it relevant in the coronavirus times, as it is expected to boosting immunity levels on consumption.

Immunity booster daily drops produced by Bengaluru-based Aspartika Biotech Private Limited contain a mixture of herbs recommended by Ayush Ministry. The drops can be consumed by adding to a glass of hot water. A chewable tablet containing curcumin and Vitamin B12, CD4 Shield is developed by Stabicon Life Sciences Pvt. Ltd located in Jigani to fight inflammation and infection. All this immunity-boosting innovative food approved by the FSSAI.

(The author is Ph D scholar at Dairy Chemistry Division, National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal, Haryana)
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