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ITC plans to launch milk-based beverages

Kolkata-based cigarettes-to-cookie maker ITC plans to launch ready-to-drink, milk-based beverages that will compete with the likes of Coca-Cola, Amul and Britannia next month.

The new product range — Sunfeast Wonderz — will be launched first in the southern states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh before being rolled out nationally. Unlike existing products made with artificial flavours, ITC will use real fruit pulp for the milkshakes, the company said.

“This innovative range of milk-based beverages will be powered by the company’s institutional capabilities including agri-sourcing, distribution, infrastructure, among others,” said Hemant Malik, divisional chief executive – Foods, at ITC. “The ready to drink milk beverages market has seen high growth in the recent past with a paradigm shift to healthier beverages and we believe innovative offerings in this segment could have great potential for the future.”

The range will be manufactured in ITC’s new facility in Kapurthala, Punjab, where the company has invested in an aseptic pet facility.

Globally, shifting consumer tastes are prompting beverages giants, including Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Co, to diversify away from traditional soda and highcalorie juices. Growth has consistently slowed down in the `22,000-crore carbonated soft drinks market as consumers increasingly switch to healthier beverages such as juices, energy drinks, flavoured tea, fortified water and dairy-based beverages. Several companies are experimenting and bringing in flavour innovation; products including oats and fruits are combined with drinking milk products to cater to the needs of health-conscious consumers.

A research from global market intelligence agency Mintel said flavoured milk products accounted for 39% of dairy drink introductions in India in the first half of 2017, up from just 20% in 2012. Over one in four (28%) consumers of pre-packaged, ready-todrink dairy drinks consume it for breakfast, said the researcher.


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