NEW DELHI: Consumer goods firms including GlaxoSmithKline and Britannia are planning to develop innovative products meeting the needs of rural shoppers in India.

Nestlé, the food group, recently announced plans to open a new R&D centre in India, backed by an investment of 230 crore rupees ($51m; €36m; £32m).

This unit will be charged with creating a wide variety of items, including ranges catering to the health and wellness requirements among customers in the countryside.

"Many people in India lack key nutrients like iron, iodine and Vitamin A," Klaus Zimmermann, Nestlé's global head, research and development, told the Economic Times.

"Fortification of food will help in overcoming this problem. It is our clear vision that we want to develop fortified affordable products for Indian consumers."

Meanwhile, Britannia, a domestic player in the same sector as Nestlé, recently unveiled an extension to its Tiger biscuit brand, aimed specifically at children, and serving a similar purpose.

"We have developed an energy snack, which is highly fortified with iron, required to give to those children who are highly deficient in iron," Vinita Bali, managing director, Britannia Industries, said.

Multinational operator GSK Consumer Healthcare has also rolled out Aasha, within its Horlicks portfolio.

"The product is priced cheaper and specially made for those people who are deficient of key nutrients," Subhajit Sen, healthcare executive vice president at GSK, said.

In 2009, Coca-Cola introduced another offering for this segment, a beverage called Vintigo, partnering with Laxmi Priya Enterprises, an NGO specialising in micro-finance schemes.

Data sourced from Economic Times; additional content by Warc staff