India’s wine major Champagne Indage is diversifying into production of a range of products like jams, cosmetics and medicines using the energy and nutrient packed Himalayan berry, seabuckthorn.
Indian wine major diversifies into Himalayan berry products
The first product to be launched by a subsidiary company, Seabuckthorn Indage Limited, will be the Leh-berry brand of juices using technology developed by the government’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
Though not a new product in the Indian market, the Leh-berry juice brand and technology have been acquired by the diversified Rs.2 billion ($45 million) turnover Indage Group of Companies for re-launch under a new brand and packaging.
“We are looking at a business of Rs.5-8 billion in the next three years through the launch of a range of products using the seabuckthorn fruit, which is rich in vitamin C and slightly pungent in taste,” Indage Group president Arun Shah told IANS.
“We see great potential for growth using seabuckthorn, considering that it is a Rs.30 billion business in China. Until DRDO developed the Leh-berry it was being used in India mostly as firewood.”
Defence scientists working in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir developed several seabuckthorn-based products as part of efforts to develop highly nutritious foods based on berries and other plant species.
The people of Ladakh have for long been aware of the medicinal properties of the seabuckthorn plant and use its berries, leaves and roots for food, fodder and firewood. Genghis Khan reportedly used it to improve the stamina, strength and fitness of his army. The juice of seabuckthorn is a rich source of vitamins A, B1, B2, C, E and K.
Seabuckthorn Indage now plans to invest about Rs.500 million on further research and development for its new products.
“We have assigned to the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) the task of developing new products which will include jams, cheese, flavoured tea, cosmetics and medicines for special therapies based on Chinese remedies and also homeopathy medicines,” said Shah.
The company plans to create an integrated manufacturing and research facility at in the Himachal Pradesh capital Shimla.
Having captured 70-80 percent of the domestic wine market with its range of white, red, sparkling and rosy wines under the brand names Chantilli, Riviera and Marquise de Pompadour, the Indage Group is now keen to diversify into non-alcoholic beverages, a growing market.
The group’s wines are exported to several countries including France and it supplies seven million litres of wine out of the eight-nine million litres consumed in India.
In the case of Leh-berry juices, the company plans to initially supply 300,000 litres a year and increase production to 30 million litres annually through the promotion of contract farming of seabuckthorn on the lines of grape cultivation. The company also has its own 3,000-acre vineyard in Maharashtra.
“Unlike wines, which are a lifestyle product in which we are firmly in the saddle and recording 40 percent annual growth, we see seakbuckthorn as a healthy product that offers good prospects both within India and for exports at a later date,” said Shah. Starting with Delhi, the Leh-berry juice range will be re-launched over the next two months in western and southern markets.ln/rhl/mj (IANS)