Sipping through the shifting beverage trends in India
India is witnessing a notable shift in consumer preferences as the focus on health-conscious choices extends to the beverage sector. With an increasing awareness of wellness and nutrition, there is a growing demand for healthier drink options. From traditional herbal concoctions to modern, nutrient-rich innovations, the Indian beverage landscape is evolving to cater to a more health-conscious consumer base.
But what is driving this shift, and how Indian companies are keeping up with the ongoing trends with their innovative and fusion ideas? Let’s find out.
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In India, the popularity of traditional drinks is deeply ingrained in the cultural fabric. From the ubiquitous chai stalls lining every street corner to the refreshing nimbu pani (lemonade) vendors in bustling markets, Indian drinks hold a special place in the hearts of locals. The aromatic masala chai, a spiced tea blend, is a daily ritual for many, fostering a sense of community and warmth. Additionally, beverages like lassi, made from yogurt, and sugarcane juice offer a respite from the tropical heat. The diverse regional flavours, coupled with the cultural significance of these drinks, contribute to their enduring popularity across the country.
Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly left a lasting impact on various aspects of daily life, including the way people consume food and beverages. In India, a country known for its diverse and vibrant culinary traditions, the beverage industry has witnessed significant shifts in trends and preferences.
One notable trend that gained traction during and after the pandemic is the increased demand for immunity-boosting beverages. Consumers have become more health-conscious, seeking drinks that offer nutritional benefits. Traditional beverages like herbal teas, Ayurvedic concoctions, and fresh fruit juices have become popular choices for those looking to enhance their immune systems.
There has been a substantial surge in the sales of beverages containing ingredients such as turmeric, ginger, and amla, believed to have immune-boosting properties.
Pranay Saraf, Head of Modern Trade at Mala’s shared his views on shifting trends in beverage consumption in India:
“While there has been a gradual growth in the beverage category in general , there has been a substantial increase in the traditional flavours like Shikanji, Aam Panna, Neebu Paani, Aamras, Thandai and Kala khatta… the list is endless. This is primarily due to the fact that customers today do not want to go through the rigmarole of preparing this at their home and instead prefer to spend money and buy it . These flavors have been part of Indian society since ages and beverage companies today have identified this gap and capitalized on it in a big way, making it a win-win situation for both consumers as well as the companies.”
Here are some major reasons why Indian beverages have picked up pace recently:
Focus on Hygiene and Safety: The heightened awareness of hygiene and safety has prompted a shift in the way beverages are consumed. Ready-to-drink and packaged beverages have gained popularity as consumers prioritize convenience and safety. As per recent trends, the demand for packaged beverages, including bottled water, ready-to-drink teas, and functional drinks, has seen a notable increase due to concerns about the hygiene of open or communal beverage options.
Use of Traditional Ingredients: One of the major reasons why Indian beverages have gained momentum is the usage of traditional herbal ingredients like turmeric, tapioca, aloe vera etc. These ingredients proved to boost immunity in the challenging times of Covid19 making them a popular choice in both India and abroad.
E-commerce Dominance: With lockdowns and social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a surge in online shopping, including the purchase of beverages. E-commerce platforms have become a preferred channel for consumers to buy a variety of beverages, from artisanal teas to international coffee blends. The Indian Beverage Association (IBA) notes a significant uptick in online sales of beverages during and after the pandemic, with consumers appreciating the convenience and contactless nature of e-commerce transactions.
Innovation in Functional Beverages: The country noticed the accelerated trend of functional beverages that not only offer refreshments but also provide additional health benefits, post-pandemic. From energy-boosting drinks to mood-enhancing concoctions, consumers are exploring a wide range of functional beverages.
Local and Sustainable Choices: The emphasis on supporting local businesses and sustainable practices has influenced beverage choices. Consumers are showing a preference for locally sourced and ethically produced beverages, reflecting a broader trend of conscious consumerism.
Vrushali Thobhani, Export Executive with Senso Foods, India while highlighting a notable trend in beverage choices, states, “In the evolving landscape of Indian beverages, there’s a notable shift towards health-focused drinks. Post-COVID-19, consumers prioritize wellness, reshaping traditional choices like tea and coffee. Products like Senso Foods’ turmeric latte tap into this trend, offering a delightful blend infused with the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric.” Similarly, their green tea kahwa combines antioxidant-rich green tea with aromatic spices, embodying the growing preference for beverages that not only tantalize the taste buds but also contribute to overall health. This reflects a conscious move towards a more holistic and health-oriented approach in India’s beverage trends.
Some of the revolutionary brands that are transforming the concept of wholesome beverage choices are:
Auric: Auric harnesses the principles of herbal science from Ayurveda to craft its daily lifestyle supplements. Rooted in the wholesome living philosophy endorsed by Ayurveda, Auric is dedicated to providing customers with nutrition for daily well-being. The brand specializes in supplements in the form of fizzy drinks, instant masala chai, and coconut water. Additionally, they seamlessly blend Indian herbs with Western beverages, such as infusing Ashwagandha in hot chocolate and incorporating turmeric into gourmet coffee.
Rasna: A prominent concentrate manufacturer worldwide, Rasna offers affordable soft drinks infused with fruits and nutrition to millions. Proudly crafted as a 100% Made in India product, it embodies the spirit of Atma Nirbhar Bharat for an extended period. The brand excels in a diverse range of fruit and protein drinks, reaching consumers in over 53 countries.
Senso Foods: Founded with a fervent commitment to deliver the cherished, genuine flavors of traditional Indian tea in a convenient instant format, the company has crafted an array of beverages, including tea, coffee, and more, available in One Cup Pouches (Ready-To-Mix) and Premixes. Additionally, the company has introduced other products such as Turmeric Latte and Instant Hot Chocolate.
Chaizup: As a prominent global exporter of Indian tea, Chaizup focuses on sourcing tea from the verdant gardens of Assam and West Bengal. The company introduces a range of specially curated fresh tea varieties and Ready to Drink Premixes. Additionally, they produce both CTC (granular) and Orthodox (leafy) tea in North India.
Hamdard: Backed by one of the largest Unani GMP-certified facilities in the world, Hamdard Laboratories is a leading manufacturer and marketer of herbal nature-based products. As for beverages, the company is well known for its popular household drink Rooh Afza and has now ventured into drinks like flavoured lassi, Milk shakes, Nariyal Paani, Squash, Rooh Afza fusion with fruit juice and more.
Mala’s: Started as a fruit jam manufacturer, Mala’s is based in Panchagani near Mahabaleshwar, known for its soaring peaks, breath-taking scenic views, lush flora, cool and crisp mountain air for juicy strawberry gardens. Ideal for fruits especially berries like strawberries, raspberries, and mulberries, Mala’s offers a variety of healthy and enjoyable drinks. They specialize in fruit syrups, cordials, herbal syrups, mocktails and more.
The post-COVID-19 era has reshaped the beverage landscape in India, with consumers prioritizing health, safety, and sustainability. From immune-boosting concoctions to the rise of e-commerce and a focus on local and sustainable choices, the beverage industry is adapting to the evolving preferences of consumers in the new normal. As the world continues to navigate the challenges posed by the pandemic, the beverage industry in India is poised for further innovation and transformation.