Monday, January 17, 2022

FMCG firms make a dash for vegetables and fruit washes, after hand sanitizers

Marico, ITC, Dabur, CavinKare and Pee Buddy are among companies that have forayed into this category

After hand sanitisers, FMCG companies are cashing in on the emphasis on hygiene and safety by launching specialised products to disinfect vegetables, fruits, meat and fish. Marico, ITC, Dabur, CavinKare and Pee Buddy are among companies that have forayed into this category, which, until now, had only a few boutique and regional brands catering to health-conscious consumers and young mothers.

Announcing the launch of Veggie Clean, Marico said that there was a need gap in the market as “ensuring complete sanitation of fresh produce is still limited to only rinsing them with water”. The company claims that the solution can remove germs, bacteria, chemicals, waxes and soil present on the surface of fruits and vegetables.

Similarly, ITC’s Nimwash, Dabur’s Veggie Wash and CavinKare’s SaaFoo are being sold with the promise that they can eliminate germs, bacteria and fungus from fresh produce.

Experts say that the expansion is a smart move for brands that already manufactured personal hygiene and household sanitisation products. “The investment in manufacturing the new products is not expected to be extremely high for these companies. The category is likely to have relevance for about a year, during which time it will become a lucrative business,” says Priti Nair, Director, Curry Nation.

Relevance beyond the pandemic is what FMCG companies are betting on. Gayatri Kabilan, Senior Marketing Manager, CavinKare says, “SaaFoo removes germs, pesticides and chemicals from vegetables, fruits and meat. The worry over ingesting impurities and chemicals is expected to linger even when the spread of the pandemic has been brought under control.”

It is worth noting that brands have introduced several products in the domestic hygiene category. For instance, under the Savlon brand, ITC has launched Savlon Surface Disinfectant Spray and Savlon Germ Protection Wipes. CavinKare has a multi-surface disinfectant spray and a spray specific to gadgets like mobile phones and laptops. Pee Buddy, too, has a multi-surface disinfectant spray, as also a vegetable cleansing tablet which doubles up as a surface disinfectant, floor cleanser and clothes disinfectant when diluted in water in varying strengths.

Early adopters of produce washes are expected to be from urban centres and metros. However, Kabilan says, “The scope of the category could expand, when there is greater awareness and category education. That is what is restricting the category’s penetration currently.”

Marketing for domestic hygiene products is relatively low on mainstream media, and brands are relying on hyper-aware consumers to discover these products themselves. Deep Bajaj, Founder, Pee Buddy says, “Mass adoption of any habit-changing product takes time. Barring the coronavirus pandemic, it took nearly a decade for hand sanitisers to become a common personal hygiene product. Anti-pollution masks have become the norm only recently. For now, brands like ours are focussed on being available at the point of purchase, which is mainly e-commerce for us.”

To grow the category further, brands will need to invest in marketing. “Some consumers may begin using domestic hygiene products in their homes over the next six months. If brands wish to grow and create mass appeal, they will need to spend on traditional advertising and communicate the functional attributes of these products,” notes Anchit Chauhan, Director, Brand Strategy, Dentsu Webchutney.

Democratisation of the price of these products, as a result of the entry of large brands, could aid mass adoption, experts say. As compared to the organic variants of fruit and vegetable washes that cost around Rs 300 for a 500 ml bottle, Nimwash and SaaFoo are priced at Rs 99 for 500 ml. CavinKare is also selling the product in smaller packets at mom-and-pop stores for Rs 2 per sachet.

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