ASIA- ITC Limited, Kolkata based Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) company is looking to launch ready-to-drink, milk based beverages set to compete other products in the soft-drinks and other beverage categories.

According to ET Retail, the new product range, Sunfeast Wonderz will be launched first in the southern states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh before being rolled out nationally.

The new product uses real fruit pulp for the milkshakes unlike existing products made with artificial flavours.

“This innovative range of milk-based beverages will be powered by the company’s institutional capabilities including agri-sourcing, distribution, infrastructure, among others,” said Hemant Malik, divisional chief executive – Foods, at ITC.

“The ready to drink milk beverages market has seen high growth in the recent past with a paradigm shift to healthier beverages and we believe innovative offerings in this segment could have great potential for the future.”

It is set to compete such products from the likes of Coca-Cola, Amul and Britannia who initiated numerous product launches in ‘healthy’ categories.

Shrinking soda market

Such moves by major beverage firms including PepsiCo are influenced by changing consumer tastes and preferences, prompting manufacturers to diversify away from traditional soda and high calorie juices.

Consumers are opting for healthier beverages such as juices, energy drinks, flavoured tea, fortified water and dairy-based beverages, something attributed to the shrinking soda market.

Several companies are experimenting and bringing in flavour innovation; products including oats and fruits are combined with drinking milk products to cater to the needs of health-conscious consumers.

The global carbonated beverages market is expected to reach US$412.5 billion by 2023, at a CAGR of 2.8%, during the forecast period, according to Mordor Intelligence.

Owing to consumer health awareness, companies are now more focused on product innovations using natural ingredients, like stevia sweeteners.

Mintel research showed that flavoured milk products accounted for 39% of dairy drink introductions in India in the first half of 2017, up from just 20% in 2012.

Over one in four (28%) consumers of pre-packaged, ready-to drink dairy drinks consume it for breakfast, said the researcher.