January 2, December 24 and 26/Datamonitor -- Frito-Lay, a division of PepsiCo, has announced that it intends to develop several products and variants around natural whole grain oats due to the ingredient's innumerable health benefits, revealed Business Standard.

Earlier in 2006, PepsiCo had introduced some oat meal products in India. The range was later extended to include flavors like apple, strawberry and saffron. Conventionally, oats are believed to support the nourishment of infants and sustenance of adults. They also help control blood sugar levels. Emerging research indicates that, if taken regularly, oats can control weight and help lose it as well. T Murali, technology director of PepsiCo's Frito-Lay division, said, "Oats also have other beneficial effects that may confer protection against chronic diseases such as heart diseases."

Furthermore, PepsiCo intends to triple its beverage business in the next five years. To do this, it would be launching a range of products in the beverages segment in 2008, according to the Press Trust India.

The company also plans to launch products in the hydration and overweight segments. Indra Nooyi, chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, stated that the non-carbonated soft drinks are drawing more gains for the company world over than the carbonated ones. Nooyi said, "There are huge opportunities in the beverages segment. We are looking at expanding our portfolio of drinks that will cater to people of all ages."

PepsiCo plans to launch new milk or soya-based drinks, reported Indo-Asian News Service, citing Nooyi.

Nooyi said, "The full-sugar drinks are growing. Alongside the zero-sugar drinks, like the Diet Pepsi, and specialty drinks, like Gatorade, and fruit juices are also logging increased sales. We will soon launch a milk or soya-based drink." Not specifying any time frame for the launch, Nooyi said that the proposal to launch a new drink arose due to an increasing trend among people to be health-conscious and a growing drive toward fruit juices and milk-based drinks.

With the new launch, PepsiCo will be vying directly against Nestle, Amul, Britannia, Heritage and other regional players in India.

From the January 7, 2008, Prepared Foods e-Flash