Southern Drink Challenges Corporate Dominance

By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

Across the global South, its thirsty people have long been a target market for Northern drinks companies. The ubiquity of the American soft drink Coca Cola, or even its rival Pepsi Cola, is testimony to that. Even the most remote village on the impoverished island of Haiti can offer an ice-cold Coke.

But the marketing power of these companies has a down side: it has pushed aside local drink brands based on traditional formulations. But in some countries, local brands are fighting back.

In India, the Cow Protection Department of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak (called RSS) based in Hardwar (www.hardwar.com), one of the four holy cities on the River Ganges, has produced a soft drink made from recycled cow urine. They call it ‘gau jal’ (Sanskrit for ‘cow water’) and it is set for a launch at the end of 2009.

The urine is highly processed to make the drink. “Don’t worry, it won’t smell like urine and will be tasty too,” Om Prakash told the Daily Mail. “Its unique selling point will be that it’s going to be very healthy. It won’t be like carbonated drinks and will be devoid of any toxins.”

The price will be less than American brands such as Coca Cola.

“We’re going to give them good competition as our drink is good for mankind,” he continued. “We may also think of exporting it.”

The drink contains not only cow urine but a blend of medicinal and ayurvedic herbs. Ayurveda is the 5,000-year-old ancient Indian health system.

The RSS was founded in 1925 and claims to have eight million members.

Cows are sacred to India’s Hindu population and killing them is illegal in many parts of India.Finding ways to make a living from cows’ waste products is common. Cow dung (manure) is already used as a fertilizer in villages. It is claimed the new soda pop will help with cancer, obesity and liver disease.

Another drink that has been consumed for its health-giving properties is Mongolian mare’s (female horse) milk. Studies by female scientists from Mongolia, South Korea and China for UNDP in the late 1990s found the milk was packed with vitamins and minerals and effective in treating liver diseases, cancer, intestine inflammations and tuberculosis.

Mongolians have used mare’s milk for centuries in their traditional diet. The drink, called airag in Mongolian, is consumed especially during traditional holidays.

There are eight times as many horses in Mongolia as the human population, which numbers 2.7 million, so the potential for this drink is enormous. The Food and Biotechnology Institute of the Mongolian University of Science and Technology (www.must.edu.mn/beta_new/) in association with the Swiss International Development Agency (www.sdc.admin.ch), has been developing technology to process mare’s milk, and make value-added products with it to create rural jobs. Under the project, eight kinds of beauty products have been manufactured so far using mare’s milk.

Resources

  • Just Food is a web portal packed with the latest news on the global food industry and packed with events and special briefings to fill entrepreneurs in on the difficult issues and constantly shifting market demands. Website: www.just-food.com
  • Brandchannel: The world’s only online exchange about branding, packed with resources, debates and contacts to help businesses intelligently build their brand. Website: www.brandchannel.com
  • Small businesses looking to develop their brand can find plenty of free advice and resources here. Website: www.brandingstrategyinsider.com
  • Growing Inclusive Markets, a new web portal from UNDP packed with case studies, heat maps and strategies on how to use markets to help the poor. Website: www.growinginclusivemarkets.org
  • Asia-Pacific Traditional Medicine and Herbal Technology Network: an excellent first stop for any entrepreneur, where they can find out standards and regulations and connect with education and training opportunities. Website: www.apctt-tm.net

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