Piling on the pounds during pandemic: Weight loss driving sales of meal replacements amid India's lockdown

By Tingmin Koe contact

- Last updated on GMT

The range of weight management products from 23BMI. © 23BMI
The range of weight management products from 23BMI. © 23BMI

Related tags: India, Weight loss, COVID-19

More Indian consumers are turning to meal replacement powder to shed unwanted pounds that piled on after gyms were closed and outdoor movement restricted in the midst of COVID-19, according to a local brand.

India’s start-up 23BMI, which provides personalised weight loss nutrition service, said there has been a 45% increase in its revenue since lockdown began in March.  

The company’s weight loss meal recommendation program runs for three months.

The meal plans typically comprises of meal replacement powder formulated by the company during the start of the program.

Subsequently, it will introduce healthy whole foods into the users’ diet to help them maintain their weight without relying heavily on the meal replacement products.

The products, available in seven flavours such as chocolate, banana, and vanilla, are only sold through its official website, or via tie-up programs with GP clinics and wedding planning agencies. This also means that most users engage its service for health and aesthetic reasons.

With the pandemic, there are now a few more reasons for consumers to engage its service, co-founder and CEO Kuonal Lakhapati told NutraIngredients-Asia.

Kuonal Lakhapati (CEO-23BMI)
Kuonal Lakhapati, co-founder, CEO of 23BMI

With gyms closed and people shunning outdoors, he said consumers were seeking alternative means – with meal replacement products as an option – to keep their weight in check.

The meal replacement promotes weight loss by creating ketosis – the breakdown of stored fats in the body. The ingredients used in the meal replacement consist of carbohydrates, lactose-based protein, fibre etc.  

In addition, he said that consumers were seeking for fuss-free meal preparation since they were staying at home more often.

 “Managing your work and your home has become more difficult and cooking being one of the most prominent aspect of day, you will need to spend time cooking.

“As our products are easy for consumption, there is no preparation time and also helps one to lose weight, we became very relevant during COVID-19 and so the consumption of our meal replacement products has gone up,”​ he said.   

Demographics

Much of the company’s consumer base comes from the domestic market (75%), while the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and Dubai are the key overseas markets.

Two-thirds of the consumers are females between 21 and 55 years old.

“I think brands should focus on building a model where people will not need to step out of their homes, where there is digital ordering, something of that sort will be helpful to consumers,”​ Lakhapati said, when commenting on how brands should navigate during COVID-19.

New products

The company is planning to launch a nutri-bar next month to expand its range of products which currently only consist of powder in different flavours.

Aayushi Lakhapati (Chief Health Officer - 23BMI)
Aayushi Lakhapati, co-founder, chief health officer

The nutri-bar has the exact same nutrient composition as the meal replacement powder, except for a different dosage format.

Other new launches in the pipeline include risotto and pasta.

To meet greater demand, the company is also planning to launch its line of meal replacement products under a different brand and make them available on retail channels. 

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