T Krishnakumar has previously said Coca-Cola is looking to 'catalyse growth'.
Coca-Cola is reportedly to experiment with a range of frozen desserts in India, as it continues to armour itself against a fall in the consumption of sugary soft drinks.
India’s Economic Times quoted two officials close to the launch as saying: “The new product will be available in the next three months, and initially sell in institutional formats such as movie theatres, and not as retail packs.”
If the launch happens, it would be a significant departure from usual business for Coca-Cola, which has otherwise resisted temptation to diversify into food.
It wouldn’t be the first food launch in the Coca-Cola system – Coke Amatil has previously released Perfect Fruit, a frozen fruit snack – but it remains a rarity for the company and would take it into new territory in the Indian market.
Only in February, the company’s outgoing CEO, Muhtar Kent, said in interview that “we don’t want to be distracted by food”, reiterating that it was concentrated on hydration rather than nourishment.
But fizzy drinks have come under extra pressure, affected by falling consumption and squeezed by intense scrutiny from governments worldwide.
Individual consumption of sugary drinks has fallen – in the US it stands at 38.5 gallons per person per year, which puts it lower than bottled water – while the UK, Ireland and South Africa were joined this week by the city of Seattle in voting to place a levy on the cost of sugar-sweeetened drinks.
The launch would put Coca-Cola India in direct contention with Hindustan Unilever and Amul, which has the largest share of India’s retail ice cream market.
Last month, Amul revealed plans to invest the equivalent of almost $390 million over the next three years to expand its processing capabilities and allow it to compete more effectively with Hindustan Unilever across all categories.
Intense competition in India’s ice cream market has made it a $1.5-billion-a-year segment.
As part of the new move, Coca-Cola India will also reportedly put fruit chunks in its Maaza and Minute Maid juices to make the drinks healthier.
Minute Maid Pulpy Mosambi contains juice of the citrus fruit mosambi, as well as additional pulp. It will be available across the country in 250ml, 400ml and 1 litre pack sizes.
Coca-Cola India has also announced that it will contribute the equivalent of $1.7 billion to the agri-industry over the next five years. Close to $800 million of this contribution will be invested in the procurement of processed fruit pulp and fruit concentrate, allowing the company to significantly diversify its portfolio of juice drinks and carbonates.
Coca-Cola India and Southwest Asia president T Krishnakumar said that the investments “will further catalyse economic growth and create new opportunities for farmers and local suppliers”.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2017