Home / News / India /  Why urban Indians have taken to kadha

NEW DELHI: Cooped up at home and anxious about their health—urban Indians are turning to age-old concoctions, such as kadha, that combine common kitchen spices to make a warm, soothing drink.

As a result, recipes of kadha made their way to Instagram tutorials and family WhatAapp groups.

In April, popular chef Saransh Goila, took to his social media handles—Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook to post the recipe for kadha.

"So there is a lot of conversation and marketing happening around the word 'immunity', and kadha is something people have been consuming for years, especially during season colds and coughs," said Goila whose video on Instagram generated over 43,000 views.

Since India first started reported an early rise in covid-19 cases in March, consumer interest and demand for the concoction has been on a steady rise, according to several companies that make Ayurvedic products.

Moreover, at the onset of covid-19 cases in India, the Ministry of Ayush—that promotes the study and research Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy—listed consumption of kadha, among several other measures, to boost immunity, prompting companies to swiftly launch packaged versions of the concoction.

Companies such as Dabur India and Baidyanth have launched or are in the process of launching an immunity-boosting kadha, in line with ingredients specified by the ministry—that include basil, cinnamon, black pepper, dry ginger and raisin—to be consumed daily. At home, these need to be boiled vigorously in water and consumed in a small quantity.

Baidyanath’s immunity building kadha that took six weeks to develop will be available in markets in a week’s time.

The pandemic, said Siddhesh Sharma, president, Baidyanath Group, has prompted new customers to enter the category as curiosity and concern of building immunity has piqued since March.

“What we see is that a category building exercise has happened where consumers have given have given a first-time attempt to kadhas," Sharma said.

The popularity of the homemade concoction comes as peak summer sales of cold beverages suffered on account of the lockdown that saw consumers stay indoors and shrink out-of-home consumption of soft drinks.

As a result, homemade concoctions are seeing a surge in popularity.

Moreover, Indian shoppers turned to natural immunity boosters such as honey and turmeric as they sought preventive measures to keep themselves healthy. In all, immunity boosting home remedies like honey, chyavanprash, turmeric gained relevance as preventive measures during India's lockdown, market researcher Nielsen said in a report dated 17 April, attributing their popularity to government information drives around the science of Ayurveda.

On social media and search engines, the interest in kadha started piquing on Google trends since March, 2020; by June, search for the term "how to make kadha" tripled from its peak time of October-November when parts of India brave the winter and seek homemade remedies.

Kadhas aren’t new to Indians. Companies steeped in the ancient system of Ayurvedic medicines have been selling the ready-to-drink concoction for years, but directed at specific ailments such as joint aches, digestive issues, menstrual issues, among others.

These are typically sold as over-the-counter products at pharmacies, general stores or Ayurveda stores.

The one prescribed by the ministry is listed purely under its "self-care guideline" and as a "preventive health measure" and is not listed as a cure to ward off infections such as the highly infectious covid-19 caused by the novel coronavirus.

Kadhas account for 20% of sales at the over century-old Baidyanath Group that has over 70 variants. These are typically bottled, ready-to-drink concoctions. Since, March, in general, kadha sales have gone up by 20-25% for the company, Sharma said.

"While these are early days, there have been strong enquiries about the product," Mohit Malhotra, Dabur India Ltd's, Chief Executive Officer, said.

The packaged consumer goods company has launched a Ayush Kwath Kaadha, an ayurvedic immunity booster as recommended by the Ministry of AYUSH, to meet the growing need for immunity building products in the wake of the COVID outbreak.

"The launch is part of Dabur's strategy to navigate the new normal and turn the challenges into opportunities. In line with the changing demand patterns, Dabur has developed a strong pipeline of innovations to address the growing consumer need for Ayurveda-based Preventive Healthcare," Malhotra said.

Already its Chyawanprash sales zoomed during India’s lockdown as Indians stocked up products infused with natural or herbal ingredients that are seen as immunity boosters.

However, Goila warns that kadhas needs to consumed in moderation. "Key is the ensure that some ingredients used in the concoction suit the summer months; while some are better suited for cooler temperature," he said.

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