MUMBAI: Coca-Cola, the world’s largest beverage company, aims to make India its third-largest market globally, according to its new CEO during his first trip to the country.

British-born James Quincey, who took over his leadership role at Coca-Cola in May, briefed the press at the end of last week about the company’s plans.

“The most immediate challenge for KK [T. Krishnakumar, President, Coca-Cola India and Southwest Asia] is let’s become No. 5 in the foreseeable future. In the end, my vision for India is that it will be one of the top three markets in the Coke system,” he said in comments reported by Livemint.

India is currently Coca-Cola’s sixth-largest market after overtaking Germany in 2015 and Quincey expressed confidence about India’s potential despite the company experiencing a few bumpy quarters at the end of 2016 and the beginning of this year due to demonetisation and a general slowdown in carbonated drink sales.

With that in mind, he confirmed that Coca-Cola is looking to enter more beverage categories beyond carbonated drinks and that it is working on a “fruit-circular economy” – a concept that T. Krishnakumar outlined last month in an interview.

“It is a great strength that the name of the company is the name of the brand, but it has also somehow limited us,” Quincey said. “While brand Coca-Cola will always be the heart and soul of the company, the company needs to be much bigger than it.”

As reported by Business Standard, Quincey explained that sparkling or carbonated drinks used to make up 90% of its sales, but that is now under 70%. “A 50:50 split of sparkling and non-sparkling could come by 2025 or 2030,” he added.

For example, the company plans to more than double juice distribution from 1m outlets to 2.6m outlets in the next three years, while also boosting its dairy and coffee-based drinks.

Reports from the press conference appear not to have touched on Coca-Cola’s water brand in India, Kinley, but – in a separate development – Patanjali Ayurved earlier announced that it plans to launch a packaged water brand sourced from the foothills of the Himalayas.

The Indian company, which was established by yoga guru Baba Ramdev, has built a reputation for being a disruptor brand and its entry into the packaged water market with its Divya Jal product is expected to pose a challenge to Coca-Cola as well as Tata Global Beverages and PepsiCo, which sells the Aquafina brand.

Data sourced from Livemint, Business Standard, Business Today; additional content by WARC staff