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India's cola giants turn to fruit

News, 18 February 2016
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NEW DELHI: The Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo are stepping up the use of fruit in their soft drinks in India, partly in response to a 2014 request for "juice with fizz" from Prime Minister Narendra Modi who wanted to give a boost to local farmers.

Earlier this week, Coca-Cola India announced it was launching a Fanta variant made from green mango, while also stating its aim of more than doubling sales of Maaza, a mango-based drink.

Venkatesh Kini, president of Coca-Cola India and South West Asia said of the Fanta variant that it was "rooted in the government's vision for the food processing sector and the role that the beverage industry can play in benefitting Indian farmers".

"It is also in keeping with our focus of providing more choice to the consumer," he added.

Referring to Maaza, he reported that only around 20% of the population had tried it. "The remaining 80% are an opportunity for us and we will increase our distribution to achieve that," he said.

PepsiCo, meanwhile, has just signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Maharashtra government to promote citrus-fruit farming there.

D Shivakumar, chairman & chief executive of PepsiCo India, told the Business Standard that a new product – Tropicana Mosambi – had been rolled out from the company's citrus-processing plant in the state, "and there will be more such products, tailored to local tastes with locally produced 'fruits of India'".

But he was clear that the company was not going to develop specific local or regional brands, otherwise "you could end up with 30 brands in every single category, which is unviable".

PepsiCo, he stated, would be sticking with a "national brand, regional blends or extensions strategy".

As regards the prime minister's request he said "You should hear from us shortly on this".

Data sourced from Business Standard, Economic Times, FoodBev Media; additional content by Warc staff

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