INDIA – Looking at expanding its regional footprints in India, beverages major Coca-Cola is planning to introduce ethnic drinks and fruit juices with an aim to localise two-third of its product portfolio over the next few years.

“The idea is that over a period of time we may have one-third of products which are basically global and two-third of the products which are very local,” Coca Cola India and Southwest Asia president T. Krishnakumar said.

Coca-Cola India at present has about 50 per cent of the beverages comprising local brands like ThumsUp, Limca and Maaza, which have been formulated, produced and sold in India.

The company had also revived its jaljeera brand RimZim last year.

Elaborating on it’s plans to launch ethnic beverages, he said, “We realised that every state in India has ethnic beverages. We are trying to identify one or two products in every state.

For instance, we are looking at ‘nariyal pani’. It is something that we believe is very important.

The company would be launching new products in the ethnic beverages category over the next three years.”

Coca-Cola globally owns a packaged coconut water brand named Zico, and has started test marketing the product in India as well.

The company is also betting big on localisation of fruit juices.

Noting that India is the second-largest producer of fruits in the world, Krishnakumar said, “We have realised that people in India have a huge love for fruits. We have launched a programme named ‘Ras Ras Mein India’ where we will pick up a fruit in every state and convert it into juice.”

In Maharashtra, mosambi (sweet-limes) and santra (oranges) are the best grown fruits, so the company has launched mosambi. Similarly in Tamil Nadu, it is working on launching Neelam mango.

“This is something where you will see expansion and in the next many years you will find that every state will have a few flavours that are state-led,” said Krishnakumar.

Besides, the cola major is working on reducing the sugar content across its portfolio by introducing low-sugar and sugar-free variants of beverages keeping in mind the changing consumer preferences.

“So it is important for us to give sugar-free categories of the products… We also realised that some people might say I don’t want a full sugar-free product, so we will formulate beverages which I call the light range of beverages which will have slightly less sugar,” he said.

The US-based beverage giant is also looking at opportunities in the hydration space.

“We will launch a whole set of beverages which are functional in nature and which will cater to different people having different requirements,” said Krishnakumar.

India is the sixth-largest market for the maker of Coke and Sprite aerated drinks and Minute Maid juices.

ET Retail