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After Maggi fiasco, FSSAI now keeps Heinz, Kellogg and Complan under scanner

(This story originally appeared in on Jun 06, 2015)

NEW DELHI: Even as

Nestle

has pulled Maggi noodles out of the market, the country’s top food safety regulator is looking at various other popular packaged food products as well. The latest to come under the scanner of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) are some key product brands of Heinz and Kellogg’s, an official source said. Regulatory sources said protein powders and energy drinks may also be sampled from across the country and tested for their quality and ingredients.

The regulator is learned to have written to these companies raising concerns and queries on labelling and branding of some of their popular packaged food products such as Complan Pista Badam, Heinz easy-to-cook baked beans and Kellogg’s Oats and Honey . The companies could not be reached for comment by TOI. These companies have been asked to give a scientific justification on the way some of their products are labelled, marketed and sold, the source said.

The source said the regulator feels there is a disconnect between the declarations made on the packaging of these products, the way they are marketed and what they really contain, which can be misleading for users.

Citing an example, the source said the pack of Complan Pista Badam projects the product as rich in dry fruits, whereas the list of ingredients mentioned by the company shows that almonds and pistachio are minimally present.

FSSAI has asked Heinz how can they sell a pista badam drink with low contents of almond and pistachio. “This is deceiving the consumer. They should maintain uniformity in what they display , write and provide to the consumer,” the official source said, emphasising the regulator’s job is to protect consumer interest.

Another Heinz product under scrutiny is Heinz’s easy-to cook baked beans. The product’s packaging allegedly declares it as a low sugar product but the nutrition details on the tin show sugar at 4.7 grams in every 100 grams. Kellogg’s Oats and Honey has also come under scrutiny .

The regulator as well as the health ministry have also asked states to monitor quality of packaged products stringently and do regular market audits to keep a check.

PE Funds, companies in race to acquire Kraft Heinz India’s consumer food unit

MUMBAI: Bulge-bracket private equity funds such as Blackstone and Carlyle are said to be competing with domestic and international strategic buyers such as Abbott, Emami,

Wipro

Consumer Care, Zydus Wellness and ITC to buy the consumer food pision of the Kraft Heinz Co. in India. Intense competition and slowing growth in the consumer healthcare market has forced large multinational corporations to weigh the options on their existing businesses.

The sale could include the entire consumer healthcare business of Kraft Heinz in India, which includes top-selling brands such as Complan, Glucon-D, Nycil and Sampriti Ghee. The talks are currently at an exploratory stage.

JPMorgan and Lazard are working with Kraft Heinz to find a buyer in a deal valued at about $1 billion, multiple sources close to the deal told ET.

Rival

GlaxoSmithKline

has also put its consumer healthcare business in India, which includes its largest-selling brand Horlicks, on the block.

Headquartered in Chicago and Pittsburgh, the US firm bought Complan from Glaxo in 1994.

Controlled by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and private equity firm 3G Capital, Kraft Heinz reported better-than-expected profit in May. Management said it’s still eyeing acquisitions after Unilever NV spurned its takeover bid last year.

Blackstone and Carlyle declined to comment as did spokespersons of Abbott, Wipro and Emami. There was no response to emails sent to Kraft Heinz, Zydus Cadila and ITC.

The decision to sell the consumer business is also part of the merger between Kraft and Heinz in 2015. Controlled by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, Kraft was created two years ago after the merger of Kraft Foods and Heinz. The company has 13 different brands with $500 m or more each in annual sales.

“The level of penetration and per-capita consumption of these FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) products are comparatively low,” said Harminder Sahni, managing director of retail consultancy firm, Wazir Advisors.

“Hence, the expectation is that these brands will be larger by 50-100 times in next 20 years, causing increased interest from strategic and PE investors.” As incomes rise, consumers will increasingly seek out branded products, boosting demand, he added.

Glaxo launched Complan, a powdered milk energy drink in 1954. Although the Complan brand in the UK was sold to Boots in 1988, it stayed in India with Glaxo until 1994, when it was acquired by Heinz.

Complan has about 8% market share in the Rs 6,000-7,000 crore market for malted food drink in the country. GSK’s Horlicks is the market leader in this segment.

Kraft Heinz India has annual sales of around Rs 1,800 crore and Complan accounted for about 40-45% of this in FY17.

Consumer acquisitions in India have more than doubled this year to $7.7 billion, up from $3.4 billion during the same period in 2017, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

The transaction coinciding with the GSK trade is also expected to see frenetic deal-making.

“Unlike GSK, which is a larger $4.5-billion play, suited for global players, this is smaller in size and hence the interest levels among local players is higher,” said an investment banking official aware of the discussions.

In the malt-based energy drink market, GlaxoSmith-Kline has a majority share through Horlicks, Boost and Maltova. Other contenders are Complan, Nestle’s Milo and Kraft-owned Cadbury’s Bournvita.

Consumer Healthcare has been a favoured theme for private equity funds such as Carlyle and Blackstone. Both have indicated interest in acquiring the spun-off units of global companies and have been aggressively competing for them.

In Video: PE Funds, companies in race to acquire Kraft Heinz India’s consumer food unit

ITC forays into dairy whitener market with Sunfresh brand; intensifies rivalry with Nestle, Amul

KOLKATA:

ITC

has stepped into the dairy whitener market with its Sunfresh brand, its second offering in dairy business, after it opened its innings in this space last October with packaged ghee.

With this, the Kolkata-based company intensified its rivalry with

Nestle

and Amul, the two largest companies in the dairy whitener segment, which together account for more than 85% of the market.

The company has launched Sunfresh in the North-East, the largest market for dairy whiteners valued at over Rs 380 crore due to milk deficit in the region. Next on cards are West Bengal and Kerala, before the company takes the brand national.

More than 60% of the dairy whitener business is generated in the North-East, West Bengal and Kerala, according to Nielsen data.

The dairy whitener market is valued at over Rs 1,370 crore, and is growing at 6% per annum. “We would soon enter few more categories in the dairy business,” said B Sumant, president-FMCG business, ITC.

“Our focus is on crafting value-added products in the dairy segment which would be superior and differentiated,” he said. The dairy whiteners are manufactured at Munger in Bihar, which is the hub for ITC’s dairy business.

ITC had earlier said that it is exploring areas such as ice-cream, butter, cheese, curd, milk-based drinks and ready-to-mix products similar to Complan and Horlicks as part of its dairy business.

An analyst tracking ITC said the company has been entering the crowded and polarised categories in the food business and has achieved success. “ITC may give good competition to Nestle and Amul in dairy whiteners, the way it has done in instant noodles and packaged snacks,” he said, requesting anonymity.

As per Nielsen data sourced from the industry, Nestle’s Everyday has around 48% share and Amul’s Amulya 38% in the dairy whitener segment.

Why are Horlicks, Complan on sale? An Amitabh Bachchan tweet might explain

On May 31, veteran film star Amitabh Bachchan tweeted: “I am taking the 1st step by joining the biggest movement to fight malnutrition @MissionPoshan, @Network18Group and @Horlicks_india to support India’s Rashtriya Poshan Abhiyaan.”

Bachchan’s tweet kicked off a controversy. A national-level advocacy group called Nutrition Advocacy in Public Interest wrote an open letter to Bachchan, asking him to withdraw the endorsement. It claimed that Horlicks was a high-sugar product and its claims of making children healthier were not scientifically backed. It also claimed that the consumption of the product was “harmful for children as it may contribute to childhood obesity and non-communicable disease in later life”.

GSK Consumer, which has put its consumer nutrition business, including Horlicks on the block, said that Bachchan would be the ambassador for its “Horlicks Mission Poshan” campaign, supporting the government’s Rashtriya Poshan Abhiyaan. According to a report, Bachchan clarified he was endorsing Mission Poshan and not any particular brand.

Horlicks and Complan, another iconic malt-based drink, might be on sale today for different reasons, but they are operating in a segment which is in decline. Increasing Health consciousness is driving the consumer away from such drinks. Volume growth in the health food drinks segment reached – 6.8% in 2016-17, according to an ET report. More alarming could be the fact that the fall in volume in this category happens to be the first in a decade in India. A steep fall in the prospects of the estimated Rs 7,000 crore health food drinks (HFD) segment might pose a challenge for the new owners of Horlicks and Complan.

The past three years, reckon analysts tracking the segment, have been challenging for most HFD players in India. Apart from intense competition, rising popularity of substitute products such as syrups has also affected growth, says Abneesh Roy, senior vice-president at Edelweiss Financial Services. Roy, however, is quick to point out that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. The companies, he says, need to focus on health, rather than taste.

Besides increasing health consciousness, there is a host of other challenges HFDs face. One is from startups offering health foods and snacking options. As parents now pay more attention to product labels, many products claim to be healthier, for example by claiming to be free of any preservatives.

What’s also adding to the woes of HFD players is competition from an unexpected quarter: PediaSure. The brand from Abbott has been the sole bright spot in the HFD category. It has even eaten into the market share of top HFD players, says a Motilal Oswal report. Brands from pharma companies entering the nutrition segment would appeal more to a health conscious consumer.

HFDs also face competition from breakfast cereals. HFDs were used to get kids to drink milk. There is now a growing preference to have cereals with milk, so parents don’t bother about HFDs.