Horlicks Rebranded as ‘Functional Nutritional Drink’, not ‘Health Drink’ Henceforth

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Hindustan Unilever’s Chief Financial Officer, Ritesh Tiwari, announced the adoption of a more accurate and transparent labelling system for the category, now termed “functional nutritional drinks” (FND). This replaces the previous designation of “health food drinks” within Hindustan Unilever Limited’s (HUL) product range. The decision to drop the “health drink” label for Horlicks came after the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry instructed e-commerce platforms to remove drinks and beverages categorized as “health drinks” from their listings.

HUL, the corporation owning multiple brands including Boost and Horlicks, rebranded its “health food drinks” category to “functional nutritional drinks” and updated the classification of its “health drinks” category accordingly.

During a press conference on April 24th, Hindustan Unilever’s Chief Financial Officer, Ritesh Tiwari, emphasized the more precise and transparent representation of the category through the FND label. He highlighted the under-penetration of the functional nutritional drink market, indicating significant growth potential.

In response to consumer concerns regarding high sugar content in beverages like Horlicks and Bournvita, several modifications were made. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) launched an investigation subsequently pursued by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR). This investigation led to directives from the central government to online retailers.

The ministry’s instructions followed the FSSAI’s directive on April 2nd, urging e-commerce companies to ensure accurate categorization of food products on their platforms. The FSSAI’s action was prompted by the misclassification of food items licensed as ‘proprietary food,’ such as Dairy-based Beverage Mix, Cereal-based Beverage Mix, and Malt Based Beverage, being marketed on e-commerce platforms under misleading categories like ‘health drink’ or ‘energy drink.’

The FSSAI directed e-commerce websites not to categorize dairy, cereal, or malt-based beverages as Health Drink or Energy Drink, noting that the term ‘Health Drink’ is undefined in Indian food laws. Additionally, the term ‘Energy Drinks’ is permitted only for products licensed under the Food Category System (FCS) and refers exclusively to carbonated and non-carbonated water-based flavored drinks. It cannot be used for dairy, cereal, or malt-based beverages, including products previously classified as ‘health drinks’ like Horlicks and Bournvita.

The ministry cited findings from the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, stating that there is no defined beverage category called Health Drink under existing regulations. The ministry’s statement emphasized, “National Commission for Protection of Child Rights… concluded that there is no ‘Health Drink’ defined under FSS Act 2006, Rules and regulations as submitted by FSSAI and Mondelez India Food Pvt Ltd.”

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