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Trying to Fit In in India

September 2012

By Reshma Bachwani, Bangalore

No one wants to be caught on the wrong side of the health-conscious fence in India these days. Food and beverage brands have fortified their marketing plans with the latest micronutrient, and consumers are lapping up this low-cal wave.

Capitalizing on the fitness frenzy, certain brands are infusing health benefits into categories that do not have strong health associations. To counter the native belief that too much tea is bad for health-- as the acidity can lead to darkening the skin-- Red Label introduced their "Natural Care" variant, with five ayurvedic ingredients that are said to lead to increased immunity.

Then there are other brands that cater to the health trend, but don't intrinsically believe in offering health food. For instance, fast food chain Tibb's Frankie offers a variant called “six-pack.” The vegetarian six-pack option is largely a mixture of potatoes- but the health hook is that the meal is cooked with olive oil and a whole-wheat base. A close look at the footnote on their menu is also quite telling.

It is interesting to note how the western notion of healthy eating has inundated Indian thinking; however, the western view of health sometimes conflicts with native health codes. Twenty years ago, largely due to a history of subsistence, fat was considered healthy in India. Today, given the culture of indulgence, brands encourage Indians to banish fat from their diets and sell instead their low-fat products. Still, India was at the forefront of healthy eating long before the fad caught on around the world. Sattvic diets, or quite simply a yoga diet, follow ayurvedic and yogic guidelines to offer the body health.

Some brands however are taking health seriously. Britannia, one of India’s most trusted food brands, pledged to remove trans fats from its biscuits. There are others, like Sanjeevanam-- a restaurant that has brought Sattvic food to the mainstream. Whether health is an essential ingredient in a recipe or just being used as a garnish to to lure customers, the growing incidence of life-style diseases, suggest that the health trend is here to stay!

Retail & Dining
Health & Fitness
Food & Drink

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