Fast&Up banks on RTD drinks, powder sachets for a bigger slice in hydration market

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

A group of football players drinking Fast&Up Reload RTD 500ml. ©Fast&Up Facebook
A group of football players drinking Fast&Up Reload RTD 500ml. ©Fast&Up Facebook

Related tags Fast&Up effervescent India heat wave hydration

Fast&Up is adding new variations of its electrolytes products, including ready-to-drink and powder stick packs, as it seeks to capture greater market share in the hydration sector.

The Mumbai-based company is known for its specialty in electrolyte effervescent tablets since debuting in 2015.

In recent months, however, the company has branched into the ready-to-drink (RTD) electrolytes beverage space under its flagship sub-brand Reload, as well as piloted the sales of electrolytes powder stick packs in India and the UK.

CEO Vijayaraghvan Venugopal told NutraIngredients-Asia ​that the new variations were targeted at attracting new consumers and giving existing consumers more choices.

For instance, the RTD version could appeal to the mass market without the need for much consumer education, unlike effervescent tablets.

The product was piloted at this year’s Mumbai Marathon held on January 21 and launched about a month ago at INR$60 (US$0.72).

“Consumers know the RTD format, they get a chance to taste a Fast&Up product through the Reload’s RTD. And we hope that by using that, they may then come back to our core products, the effervescent tablets.

“We also feel RTD gives us an edge because in some markets, RTD products are much more acceptable and also, consumers may want to take a drink at a specific point, such as during sporting activities or playing a game of badminton.”

With bouts of heat waves sweeping across India, the demand for hydration products is higher than ever.

Back on May 27, India Meteorological Department reported temperatures of as high as 49 degrees Celsius in the northwestern state of Rajasthan. Other areas, such as Punjab, Haryana-Chandigarh-Delhi, also hit a range of 44 to 46 degrees Celsius.  

Local media The Times of India ​reported on May 22 that prices of tender coconuts hit INR$50 (US$0.60) due to shortage in supply and increased demand. The price is 10 rupees higher than the average price last year.  

Quick commerce, including food and drinks delivery, is a common way for consumers to get their RTD hydration drinks.

“Who would buy a RTD? In India, we are seeing a big and long summer this time round, there is the heat wave and people want to something that they can consume immediately to quench their thirst,” ​said Vijayaraghvan.

The launch also came at a time when the brand has established itself and is in a better position to compete with already renowned brand names, such as PepsiCo’s Gatorade.  

“When you look at the electrolyte drinks space, it is historically and traditionally occupied by the big companies. It is not easy, or it is not something that everyone would want to do on day one.

“But for us, since we have established Reload as a brand, people have immense faith in us and our credibility is there, it was only a natural progression of the brand,” ​he said.

With consumers becoming more conscious of their sugar intake, he added that the product – which comes with a total sugar level of 0.256g per 100ml – could be a healthier and “cleaner” alternative over others such as soft drinks or energy drinks loaded with sugar and caffeine.

This summer, the company also piloted the launch of an electrolyte popsicle with local ice-cream firm NOTO, sold through NOTO’s website and quick commerce.

Electrolyte stick packs for global expansion

On the other hand, Fast&Up is hoping to expand its global presence with electrolytes powder stick packs.

Currently, electrolyte stick packs are trending in the West, such as the US as seen in the case of Unilever’s Liquid I.V. The brand has also made strides across APAC in recent months, with its launch in China and Australia. 

“The stick pack format is basically more of a global strategy for us. I think the idea is it gives us one more avenue for us to expand into the global markets, such as the US and the UK for example…It just adds to the product portfolio and helps us to expand,” ​Vijayaraghvan said.

The stick pack format has been piloted in India and in selected channels in the UK about two months ago.

The company is also hoping to prepare itself for changes in the Indian market, should stick pack gain traction across the country.

“Maybe in two- or three-years’ time, you might have a diversion of the Indian customer base who are wanting to use stick packs, because it's very convenient to use, especially during travels. I think it helps us to kind of expand the product basket and target more population.”

Sales of its core effervescent tablets, on the other hand, have continued to grow – registering a growth rate of 60 to 70 per cent yoy.

“In the last few years, we have been growing upwards of 60 to 70 per cent every year, we are just scratching the surface when it comes to electrolytes, Reload and these types of products in India.”

Introducing new formats also helps the company keep up with global trends. So far, Reload’s products are available in India, UK, Singapore and over 20 other countries.

“We are always on the look out at the international global markets to see what the others are doing. And there are so many good things happening, so sometimes we also feel that we have the capabilities to do it.

“Electrolytes might be something which is very old, but still, you have new concepts, new brands and people are accepting it more and more.”

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