London: Pepsi, which was founded and marketed by a pharmacist as a digestive syrup, is revisiting its roots with an ultra-cheap softdrink that will aid fight against anaemia in women in rural India.
The product expected to be launched as early as next year may cost just Re1 or 2 for a drink, although a decision on the packaging is pending, sources familiar with the project said here.
“The aim is to reduce incidence of anaemia among women in rural India by 20% by 2020,” the source said but did not wish to be identified.
Research and development of the product is on both in India and the US, where the $39 billion convenient snacks, foods and beverages company is headquartered.
Pepsico, formed after the merger of Pepsi-Cola and Frito-Lay in 1965, has been stepping up accent on health and wellness and expanding its product portfolio with healthier choices such as ‘Pepsi Raw´, the cola drink made from fully natural ingredients, launched in the UK.
But the premium pricing formula for the drink may not allow the company to bring it to India, where the market for aerated drinks is minuscule compared to the West.
The name Pepsi itself is derived from ‘pepsin´, the enzyme that helps in digestion. North Carolina pharmacist Caleb Bradhan had invented the drink in the 1890s and had marketed it as a digestive syrup, but it was only much later that the cola became a ‘cool´ drink.
According to various estimates, nearly 70% of all expectant mothers in India suffer from iron deficiency and 15-30% of maternal deaths in the country are linked to this.
“The company is working toward making the anti-anaemia drink viable by reducing the cost on packaging and distribution,” the source said, indicating the possibility of the drink being distributed through local health centres.