The ITC group has challenged rivals PepsiCo and Dabur to make their juices “concentrate free” through prominently displayed hoardings across markets, even as one of its rivals called it a gimmick.
“We’re inviting Tropicana and Real to join us in abandoning concentrates,” utters the latest outdoor advertisement for ITC’s B Natural juices. “Will the competition join us, be there to see,” it says, adding that “this journey” starts from April 9.
ITC foods divisional chief executive Hemant Malik said the firm’s launch of the ‘Say No To Concentrate’ campaign is aimed at “changing the way fruit juices are made in India”.
“Most packaged fruit beverages in the market today are made from fruit concentrates, which are diluted with water during reconstitution,” he said.
“We have extended personal invitations to industry stalwarts to join B Natural’s pledge to make Indian fruit juices concentrate free,” Malik said.
“This is a gimmick aimed at spreading misinformation that fruit concentrates are unhealthy and not made from fruits, which is an utter lie,” said Mayank Kumar, marketing head — foods at Dabur.
He said many of the variants of ITC B-Natural available in the market are also made from fruit concentrates only.
“The way ITC is depicting its juice, it seems that they are freshly extracted and packed for sale, which again is a complete lie. Their juices are also manufactured from fruit pulp that is extracted from fruits, heat processed for preservation and then stored at ambient/cold storages, and then packed in a Tetra Pak in a similar process as employed by every company,” Kumar said.
Dabur’s Real has 55.4% share in fruit juices and nectars market, an industry official said, quoting data from research firm Nielsen said.
Deepika Warrier, vice president (nutrition) at PepsiCo, said, “It is important for consumers to be aware that there is no significant nutritional difference between ‘from concentrate’ and ‘not from concentrate’ fruit beverages.”
“As a responsible beverage company, we would urge industry players to join our efforts to make fruit beverages nutritionally superior with sugar reduction, adding vegetable juices, functional fortification and driving preference for 100% juices at affordable price points,” Warrier said.
She said PepsiCo has a significant sourcing footprint in India, adding that 65% of all fruits used in Tropicana juices are sourced from Indian farms.
B Natural had launched ‘concentrate free’ juice last year with 100% pomegranate juice, and ITC said it is now shifting its entire juices portfolio to the ‘not from concentrate’ range, by leveraging its agri sourcing capabilities to source fresh fruits from Indian farmers.
One of B Natural’s new ads says: “Dear Tropicana, come join us in making Indian juices concentrate-free. Yours truly, B Natural.”
Dabur’s Kumar said juices made from fruit concentrates as well as suitable combinations of fruit concentrate and pulp have almost similar nutrition values as those made from “not from concentrates”.