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In India, Go with Your Guts

September 2012

By Anoushka Sharma, Delhi

The new Kellogg's “Happy Inside - Happy Outside” TV commercial is no revelation to the Indian consumer. It’s just another brand jumping on to the bandwagon of digestive health.

Curd (yogurt) is an inherent part of the Indian diet. It’s been so for ages. But digestive health as the core of well-being and wholesome living is a relatively newer concept. Or, rather, it's a concept that has been cleverly re-invented by companies and their marketers.

Probiotics is a term now common among the urban Indian consumer. In the last two years, packaged curd by Amul, Nestle or Mother Dairy, all have a sticker on them that reads: “Probiotic Dahi" (Dahi is curd, in Hindi). Nestle’s Nes Vita features packaging that works like a little lesson in digestive health. Probiotics, a term that means ‘'for life,” are essentially the good bacteria found in fermented foods that help improve digestion and fight infection. Amul, India’s quintessential dairy company, came out with Amul ProLife in 2011 and a range of probiotic ice creams and desserts. These are not one-off products, according to a recent article by the Economic Times, India’s leading business paper. The paper quoted that the domestic probiotic market is expected to grow at an annual rate of 11% until 2016, mainly on the back of awareness campaigns promoting its benefits.

But the pioneer of bringing digestive health to India, it seems, was a foreigner. Back in 2007, when Yakult—a joint venture between Yakult Honsha, Japan and Groupe Danone of France-- first came to India, the bubbly Bollywood actress Kajol claimed to use it as the health drink for her family. It’s now available in little, shot-sized bottles kept in the impulse-buy shelves of supermarkets.

So now, when Kellogg's targets its all-bran breakfast cereal at young mothers-- who run the show both at home and at work-- and suggests they begin their day with a digestive health meal, nobody asks any questions. Whether it's probiotics or whole-grain foods, anything for healthy intestines has become a staple in Indian kitchens.

Health & Fitness
Food & Drink

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