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Functional food market in India growing at 14-15%; Yoghurt key trend
Thursday, 22 September, 2016, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Anurag More, Mumbai
The size of the Indian functional food and beverage market was between Rs 46 billion and Rs 49 billion in 2014-15, and it was growing at 14-15 per cent. Although it is at a nascent stage and less than one per cent of the global functional food and beverage market, the key trends are functional yoghurt, fortified biscuits and bread, fortified breakfast cereals, fortified edible oil and functional gum.   

This was stated by M M Chitale, director, FBO Consulting and Technical Services, and member, Association of Food Scientists and Technologists (India), Mumbai, at the 2016 edition of Functional Foods and Beverages Summit India, a two-day event organised by Inventicon - Business Intelligence, which kicked off in Mumbai on September 21, 2016.

During his presentation on opportunities in the dynamic fast-growing functional foods market, he spoke about functional foods and nutraceuticals, categorised functional foods, non-altered functional foods and enhanced functional foods and stated the potential benefits of the food component.

Chitale stated that some mid-size segments, including breakfast cereals and fortified biscuits, were growing at a healthy rate, adding that functional beverages, energy and sports drinks and health drinks had also been witnessing steady growth.

The key growth drivers are changing demographics, growing health awareness, rising disposable incomes and increasing accessibility. He concluded that functional foods should be designed for niche markets, instead of developing for the whole marketplace.

Raghu Guda, director, fraud investigation and dispute services, Ernst & Young, India, made a presentation on regulatory issues and barriers and legislation on health claims - healthy, functional and medical foods.

He spoke about the regulatory classification of food and the current scenario of the nutraceutical market in India, which is estimated to be $2 billion approximately. He gave the background of standards for proprietary foods - the latest version of revised proprietary food standards, compliance for proprietary foods and draft regulations on nutraceuticals and special regulations on nutraceuticals.

“Claims are statements made about the food products, highlighting the effect of their consumption on the human body. The claim validation process in India is lengthy,” Guda said.

“It is time for the industry to come forward and make their presence count in the complete process of standard setting and claim validation process of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI),” he added.

Poornima Shankar, senior research scientist, Himalaya Drug Company, made a presentation on key trends in functional food and beverages in 2016. She spoke about consumer health drivers, the shift in healthcare from treatment to prevention, consumer awareness and consumer spends on healthcare.

“Most consumers are aware of the health benefits of foods. Only 35 per cent are aware of the term nutraceuticals,” she said.

Shankar added that there was a paradigm shift from treatment-oriented to prevention-oriented, from synthetic to natural and from generic to customised. She also spoke about key strategies for the future, such as technology, product strategy, regulations, marketing, supply chain and deal-making, and the role of e-commerce.

Milli Bhattacharya, senior manager - scientific, nutrition and regulatory affairs, Coca-Cola India Pvt Ltd, made a presentation on functional beverages, stating that consumers were thirsty for health and innovation.

“Functional drinks and juice are two of the fastest-growing sub-categories within the beverage market,” she said. Her presentation also dwelt on mega trends, functional beverage landscape and trends and challenges.

“Functional drinks offer a specific benefit like increased energy for work and sports. Innovation remains a key factor that has helped brands in consolidating their position in the fiercely competitive functional beverage market,” Bhattacharya stated.

There was a panel disucssion on what other factors might drive opportunities in the functional food market. Bhattacharya and Chitale were on the panel, which included Arun Balakrishnan, chief scientific officer, OmniActives Health Technologies, Shailesh Ghodekar, head, quality assurance, Marico and Neerja Hajela, head, science, Yakult Danone India Pvt Ltd.

The points discussed included functional foods marketing health to modern India. The deteriorating state of health in urban India raises questions about the adequacy of conventional food products to address the gaping issue. Suppliers of food ingredients play a significant role as the source of innovation in the functional food segment.

Ghodekar spoke about driving food safety across the value chain with respect to Marico.

K Madhavan Nair, former head, micronutrient research group, National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), Hyderabad, and vice-president, Nutrition Society of India, made a presentation on biomarkers and functional foods’ efficiency.

He spoke about functional food design and the role of in-vitro biomarkers, adding that researchers must identify a biomarker that functions as a reliable surrogate measure of the underlying biological effects.

Viral Brahmbhatt, applied sciences head, Nestle R&D Centre India, spoke about Omega-3, intestinal inflammation and overview of arachidonic acid pathway.

Hajela spoke about probiotics - a paradigm shift from tradition to science and gut microbiota - a virtual organ.

There was a discussion between Nair and Nilesh Amritkar, managing director, Envirocare Labs, on the safety of bioactive compounds. They spoke about their delivery in every day foods and beverages.
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