The Indian beverage sector is gearing up for new age of innovation not just in juices but packaging concepts too. These are some of the observations during the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic that has impacted the country and the world.
The lockdown for the pandemic has resulted in change of eating habits as primarily people have become aware that low immunity is seen to be a key cause of the virus attack on humans. There is considerable demand for immunity booster drinks as consumers stay away from unhealthy fast foods and beverages. The choice for home cooked food and traditional-natural beverages is on the rise, noted a panel of industry experts.
Just as consumers’ behaviour changes for food and beverage, the need of the hour is to track and analyse these preferences to comprehend the future demand, noted the experts deliberating at a webinar by Messe Muenchen India on ‘Beverage Industry in times of Covid-19’.
The panel members comprised G V Ramachandran, deputy general manager, purchase, CavinKare; Dr Raghav Jadli, MD, Jadli Foods (India); Rakesh Mehra, head, operations, Safal Frozen, Mother Dairy; Anil Choubey, head, NPD & projects, Trade Kings Group Zambia; Prof. Rakesh K Trivedi, president (HQ), Oil Technologists' Association of India; and Dr Prabodh Halde, regulatory head, Marico. The moderator was Smita Murthy, owner, Fatlabrador Foods LLP, independent consultant and India representative FSSC 22000.
The imminent trends that surfaced in the last 40 days of the lockdown are demand for healthy and traditional beverages. It is also evident that novel packaging concepts would take the centre-stage following the Covid-19 lockdown to stall the spread of Corona virus disease. Hence concepts that are viable with a fusion of tradition backed by science would be the way forward, they noted.
Another positive aspect was the government concerns for the industry as it relaxed regulations for issue of licences and labelling .
The packaging of ready-to-drink beverages will move to single use plastics as biodegradable options are expensive when the industry was strapped for cash following loss of revenue during the lockdown.
Covid-19 lockdown phase is a blessing in disguise as people within the confines of their homes will ensure good healthy consumption practices. From a beverage industry stand point it is at the threshold of innovation. This would lead to increased R&D for development of new products that are both tasty and healthy. There is a need to fine tune all future products to cater to a scenario where lower purchasing power and reduced consumption prevail. Hence consumerism will take a backseat, said the industry.
Further the lockdown has led to labour migration by 50 per cent. This would see companies’ investment in automation and focus on skill training. The impact of crude oil prices is a blow to operational costs. Logistics of supply chain is far too expensive and cumbersome because of restrictions.
The beverage industry sees that investments in technologies like augmented reality, artificial intelligence and robots among others are a must to offset negative impacts in case there is a second wave of the virus .
source: FNB news