Danone forays into probiotic market

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New Delhi, Dec 19 (UNI) French FMCG giant Groupe Danone today tied-up with Japan-based Yakult Hansha to foray into probiotic segment, even as its legal battle with Britannia Industries is still on.

''We have already received a no-objection certificate from Britannia for this joint venture,'' Yakult Danone India Private Ltd (YDIPL) Director Marcel Bertaud told reporters.

Danone was locked in a battle with the Wadias from the biscuit maker Britannia. Danone, which is waiting for regulatory approvals to make its entry into India, is open to selling its 25.1 per cent stake in domestic biscuit company Britannia Industries, subject to Britannia allowing Danone to operate independently.

The company is aggressively working on tapping the country's dairy market, which ranks amongst the world's biggest in terms of per capita consumption.

Formed in 2005 as a 50:50 joint venture between Danone and Yakult Hansha, YDIPL will manufacture and market probiotics food products in India.

The JV has also set up a manufacturing plant at Haryana with an initial investment of Rs 136 crore. The plant has a manufacturing capacity of one million bottles of probiotic drink per day.

Probiotic drink 'Yakult' , priced at Rs 10, will be available in the national capital and later in the other metros. ''The move to smaller cities will be determined by the response we get,'' Mr Bertaud said.

The JV company aims to sell one lakh bottles every day by 2008-09. ''Though the market for probiotics in India is still at its nascent stage, health consciousness among Indian consumers is growing at a fast pace. As pioneers and the global leaders in this category, we will play a major role in developing the probiotics food market in India.'' ''We are confident Yakult will be accepted well by Indian consumers as an intrinsic part of their daily diet,'' YDIPL Managing Director Kiyoshi Oike said.

The product will be available in Delhi and NCR in the first phase followed by other metros and tier II cities in the north. The product has been priced at Rs 10 for a 65 ml bottle.

The company has tied up with 150 retail stores for making the product available. ''The cold storage poses a huge problem for us,'' he added.

The product will also be sold through a unique home delivery system, where ladies trained by the company will be sent out to sell and educate the customers about probiotic food products.

The company will also look at hospitals, schools and colleges as a sales destination.

UNI

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