Danone India’s flagship brand Protinex is available in 2.18 lakh retail stores across the country. The effort has been to position it as a consumer-friendly brand, rather than being a doctor-prescribed brand, which it traditionally was
When French dairy and nutrition major Danone announced its exit from the dairy business in India in early 2018, it came as a huge surprise to the industry. The company was the first to introduce flavoured yogurts in the country. It had also been reiterating its commitment to the Indian market. But the company would have realised that despite being laden with opportunities, the dairy business in India was tough and was a capital guzzler.
As opposed to the dairy business that was reportedly incurring loses, the nutrition business, which it had forayed into two years after dairy (in 2012) with the acquisition of brands such as Protinex, Farex and Dexolac, was growing robustly and was profitable too. So, the company in 2017 decided to further grow the nutrition portfolio, which already resonated well with the Indian audience rather than invest in building a category like yogurt, which had a limited audience. Protinex and Farex, the infant food brands, were household names.
“In India, we were young, so it was important to take steps in the right direction, hence, we chose nutrition. We felt that nutrition was a great way to take the business forward. We took the strategic call of moving out of dairy and focus all our energy on nutrition as a business,” explains Himanshu Bakshi, Managing Director, Danone India. Bakshi proudly calls Danone India a 100 per cent nutrition company. “Everything that we do revolves around nutrition. It is about making an impact on every Indian’s life,” he says.
Today, Danone India’s flagship brand Protinex is available in 2.18 lakh retail stores across the country. The effort has been to position it as a consumer-friendly brand, rather than being a doctor-prescribed brand, which it traditionally was. Not just has the company been propagating the importance of adequate protein intake in one’s day-to-day life (Almost 80 per cent of Indian diets are supposed to be protein deficient), it has also ensured that it has made Protinex available in different flavours, the most recent launches being mango and kesar badam. Bakshi calls it “Indovation”, as the focus is on Indianising its innovations, a learning he says he got from Danone’s erstwhile dairy business in India. Danone was always at the forefront of dairy innovations during its short stint in India with products such as mishthi doi and mango lassi. The nutrition business, claims Bakshi, is toeing the same lines.