INDIA – Maaza, a Coca-Cola fruit drink brand from India and marketed in Africa, Eastern Europe, and Asia has been named the company’s fastest-growing brand, overtaking the growth rate of well-established fizzy drinks Thums Up and Sprite.

The mango drink (Maaza), which competes with Parle’s Frooti and Slice from PepsiCo, is Coca-Cola’s third-largest brand in India now, and the category leader within juices.

While Thums up has been overtaken by Maaza, it still remains the largest brand in the company’s portfolio based on size, Arnab Roy, vice president & head-marketing, Coca-Cola India and Southwest Asia said.

He added that Thums Up became a billion-dollar brand by sales in India last year and he is hopeful that Maaza could also touch billion dollars in sales “in the next few years”.

Roy also noted that the beverage maker plans to take the mango drink to markets outside India, for which it is working on obtaining regulatory country-specific clearances.

Coca-Cola, the largest buyer of mangoes in the country, is working on a long-term strategy with farmers to overcome the supply chain challenges that will see Maaza get the good pulp.

Furthermore, the beverages maker, whose portfolio also includes Minute Maid juices, is stepping up nutrition as a core growth vertical globally as well as in India.

The company also announced it is planning to invest heavily in dairy and glucose-based drinks to broad base its portfolio beyond core fizzy drinks.

Sedef Salingan Sahin, president, of the global nutrition category at Coca-Cola, said: “We are looking with the nutrition lens, into the broader needs space of consumers, which includes juices, value-added dairy, and plant-based beverages.”

The company also acknowledged the growth of its Indian unit which posted a growth of nearly 20% year-on-year in the March quarter, which is an addition of 500 million incremental transactions.

The early onset of summer and reopening of malls, theatres, restaurants, schools, and revival of travel has led to five-year record sales in the season.

For Coca-Cola, innovation will be a key growth engine and will focus on urban markets with both premium and localized products, the company said.

Through the innovation, Coca-Cola recently introduced Zero Sugar in India, mango-based drink aam Panna under the Maaza franchise, and Fanta sparkling apple.

The Zero Sugar mango-based drink pioneers the company’s plan to bring in global brands as well as launch more hyperlocal brands with regional flavors, besides sports and mass-energy drinks.

Earlier Coca-Cola India committed an investment of US$1.7 billion to create a ‘fruit circular economy’ till 2023.

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