Fizzy fruit drinks to woo cola-loving young India

November 19th, 2008 - 12:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, Nov 19 (IANS) Aerated drinks, especially colas, that are gulped by millions of young Indians may soon face healthy competition from fizz-filled mango, pineapple and passion fruit juices, thanks to horticultural scientists who have developed an array of carbonated fruit juices to woo youth.The carbonated fruit juices are the innovations of scientists at the Indian Institute of Horticultural Research (IIHR) at Hesaraghatta, about 25 km from here. The products were on display at the Krishi Mela (agriculture fair) held here last week.

“Today’s youngsters love to drink only carbonated soft drinks. They do not prefer fruit juices, though they are healthier and low on calories. Thus our latest product is an array of carbonated fruit juices to suit the taste buds of Indian youth,” I.N. Doreyappa Gowda, senior scientist at IIHR, told IANS.

“The market for carbonated soft drinks in India is huge. Through our latest innovation we are trying to capture the market,” he added.

The fruit juices received a good response from the public and wannabe entrepreneurs who visited the four-day fair. Several entrepreneurs have shown interest in producing and marketing the drinks, Gowda said.

“We’re happy to get such a huge response from one and all. All (who tasted the juices) appreciated our products,” the senior scientist said.

A carbonated drink is a beverage that has had carbon-dioxide dissolved in it, most often to improve the taste, texture or both.

According to market research firm Datamonitor Plc., the carbonated drinks market in India is currently valued at over Rs.60 billion ($1.2 billion approx.), almost 50 percent higher than the market for traditional Indian beverages like sherbat and lassi and fruit beverages.

Carbonated soft drink is a concept borrowed from the US but has gained immense popularity in the last three decades in India, mostly among the youth.

“Very soon we will have an all-India campaign to popularise carbonated fruit drinks. As IIHR is not into direct production, we will give the technical know-how and training to entrepreneurs at our institute to start their enterprises for carbonated fruit juices,” said Gowda.

Asked about the harmful effects of carbonated drinks, Gowda said the carbonated fruit juices developed by IIHR were high on fruit pulp and don’t contain any synthetic colours.

“Unlike regular carbonated soft drinks sold in the market, our carbonated juices don’t contain any caffeine or caramel colouring, which are harmful to health. Moreover, as the juices contain 100 percent fruit pulp, they are rich in vitamin, minerals and fibres,” said Gowda.

Several studies have shown that carbonated soft drinks cause obesity, osteoporosis, nutritional deficiencies and tooth decay.

At its stall at the fair, IIHR also displayed various processed food and vegetable products like tomato sauce, ketchups and dehydrated onion slices.

“It is quite interesting to know about the latest innovations of IIHR on fruit products. As I am on the lookout to start my own enterprise, I would definitely like to get the technical know-how from IIHR,” said 23-year-old science graduate Madhu S.

The krishi mela, organised by the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Bangalore, attracted around 400,000 visitors, the majority of whom were farmers.

The IIHR was established in 1967 at New Delhi by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) to conduct research on various aspects of horticultural crops - fruits, vegetables, and ornamental and medicinal plants to improve their productivity, quality and utility. The organisation was shifted to Bangalore in 1968 and now has a campus of over 260 hectares.

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