Indian soft drink market expected to see significant growth, says PepsiCo bottler Varun Beverages

Source: Financial Express, 13 March 2023

The Indian soft drink market is expected to see “significant growth” as consumption is anticipated to increase steadily, which will deliver sustainable and healthy volume growth across all product categories, said Varun Beverages Ltd (VBL), PepsiCo’s largest franchise bottler. This would be driven by factors such as shifting population demographics, the rising spending power of young consumers, accelerated urbanisation, and growing rural consumption.

The company is in the process of further expanding its capacities to meet the higher demand expectations, said VBL in its latest annual report. Its distribution model and on-the-ground end-to-end infrastructure facilities continue to be the key growth drivers and VBL remains committed to extending it to newer areas and under-penetrated regions to further boost its market presence,” it added. While from an operational standpoint, VBL continues to focus on new product categories and evolving customer preferences.

Launch of new products such as energy drink ‘Sting’ performed well across various geographical regions and recent launches in the value-added dairy segment have received positive consumer response. “Overall, VBL is confident in its ability to deliver strong and sustained growth moving forward, owing to the exceptional performance during the year, normalisation of the environment, and the expanded capacities to meet the high demand expectations,” it said.

VBL is PepsiCo’s second largest franchisee (outside the US), possessing rights to manufacture, distribute and sell carbonated soft drinks, fruit juice-based drinks, packaged drinking water, sports drinks and energy drinks spanning across 6 countries.

In India, VBL has a presence in 27 states and 7 Union Territories and accounts for 90 per cent of PepsiCo India’s beverage sales volume in the country. VBL in the domestic market is consolidating existing distributors and increasing distribution in underpenetrated regions.

It is diversifying its portfolio by “periodically launch of innovative products in select markets in line with changing consumer preferences”, said VBL.It will focus on non-cola carbonated beverages and non-carbonated beverages. In the bottled water segment, the company is looking at a “significant growth” opportunity.

VBL manufactures, markets and distributes PepsiCo-owned products like carbonated soft drinks, carbonated juice-based beverages, juice-based beverages, energy drinks, sports drinks and packaged drinking water. The company, which follows the calendar year as its financial year, recorded a revenue of Rs 13,173.1 crore in 2022.

Maaza to be another billion-dollar brand for Coca-Cola in 2 yrs; not worried about entry of Reliance

Source: Economic Times, 03 November 2022

Coca-Cola expects its juice brand Maaza to be another billion-dollar brand in next two years and is not worried about entry of new players such as Reliance Retail in the carbonated beverages market.

The cola major is also enhancing its play in the premium hydration space by brands such as Schweppes and Smartwater and driving penetration in premium channels.

Besides, it is pushing its small-pack strategy to grow household penetration amid inflationary woes.

It expects the rural market to bounce back on the back of favourable factors such as good monsoon, pick-up in the jobs market and government investment on infrastructure generation, Coca-Cola President (India and Southwest Asia) Sanket Ray said in a media roundtable on Tuesday.

Last week, global soft drinks major Coca-Cola Company said its lemon and lime-flavoured soft drink Sprite has become a billion-dollar brand in the Indian market.

Earlier, Coca-Cola was expecting Maaza to join the billion-dollar league in 2023. However, due to a surge in mango prices in 2022 as the weather played spoilsport, the company now expects this to happen a year later.

“We would love our juice brand Maaza to become a billion-dollar brand and that is clearly our ambition. But it may take longer and may not happen next year.

“With the surge in mango pulp price, we do not know how next year will shape up. If it happens next year that will be good. But it should happen by 2024,” Ray said.

In January this year, Coca-Cola had said its Indian soft drink brand Thums Up had become a billion-dollar brand in 2021.

Maaza is a mango-based drink made from the pulp of the Alphonso variety.

Asked about the current size of Maaza’s business, Ray said, “We should end this year around Rs 4,500 crore to Rs 5,000 crore.”

Maaza was acquired by Coca-Cola from Ramesh Chauhan of Parle Bisleri in 1993, along with brands like Thums Up, Limca, Citra and Gold Spot, when the Atlanta-headquartered company had reentered the Indian market.

When asked about the market dynamics after the entry of big companies such as Reliance Retail and Tata Consumer Products Ltd (TCPL) in the beverages segment, Ray said it is positive and will only help the category to expand.

According to him, entry of the two home-grown majors is a “great opportunity” albeit with enhanced competition and they would also invest to develop the market further and bring innovations to evolve the category and ultimately benefit the consumers.

Ray, however, also said the entry of Reliance Retail and TCPL can result in “some disruptions at the local level” leading to consolidation, but pricing will not be a game changer.

“This category penetration is one of the lowest in FMCG. Coke and Pepsi do not have enough budget to get into that,” he said when asked how the market dynamics would be with their entry.

Reliance Retail had acquired home-grown brand Campa Cola signalling its intention to enter the soft drinks market in India. TCPL is expanding its presence in the beverages market

India is the fifth-largest market for Coca-Cola globally.

In its latest global results, Coca-Cola had said it had continued to strengthen in the first half of the year with gains in market share of sparkling offerings in India.

Coca-Cola Company Chairman and CEO James Quincey had said: “We drove 2.5 billion transactions in India at affordable price points through the expansion of returnable glass bottles and single-serve PET packages.”

JFL launches US fried chicken brand Popeyes in India, opens first restaurant in Bengaluru

Source: Economic Times, 20 January 2022

New Delhi: Jubilant Foodworks Ltd, the country’s leading quick service restaurant (QSR) operator, on Wednesday announced to launch the iconic US Fried Chicken brand Popeyes in India by opening its first store in Bengaluru on Wednesday. Louisiana-born Popeyes was founded in 1972 and has been one of America’s most popular and fastest-growing chicken brands. 

Jubilant Foodworks Ltd (JFL), which is also a master franchise of brands such as Dominos and Dunkin’ Donuts, will open two more Popeyes restaurants in Bengaluru soon thereafter, according to a statement.

JFL, part of the Jubilant Bhartia Group, had last year announced to sign a Master Franchise and Development Agreement, with Popeyes for markets such as India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. 

Jubilant Foodworks Chairman Shyam S Bhartia and its co-Chairman Hari S Bhartia said, “We are confident that Popeyes will not only delight guests but also strategically complement our portfolio and fortify JFL’s leadership in the QSR domain.” 

“The unique, delicious and wholesome Cajun flavours of Popeyes are certain to appeal to the Indian audience. 

“Over the years, Popeyes has emerged as one of the most loved brands across the globe, and we aspire to recreate that same excitement and loyalty for Popeyes and its signature dishes in India as well,” JFL Chief Executive Officer Pratik Pota said. 

David Shear, president of RBI International, the parent company of Popeyes, said: “This new country entry illustrates our commitment to serving more guests around the world with our signature blend of spices and flavours. We are confident that our India guests will love their Fried Chicken from Popeyes, and we look forward to this launch.” 

Popeyes is best known for its spicy New Orleans style fried chicken and chicken sandwich. 

Its India menu will feature the signature Cajun-flavoured, world-famous chicken sandwich, which took the internet by storm in August 2019 in the United States.

Moreover, the Indian menu will also feature an array of vegetarian options, it added. 

Popeyes will have its app and a website allowing customers to experience the food at home as well. JFL has built its own in-house delivery fleet of e-bikes.

Anheuser-Busch InBev to enter energy drink market in India

Source: Economic Times, 28 October 2021

Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI) has extended Budweiser into the energy drinks market in India, a first for the world’s largest beer brand globally.

This is part of the Belgian drink and brewing company’s wider strategy to focus on non-alcoholic and premium beverages that now accounts for over half its sales. The new product – Budweiser Beats – will compete with Red Bull, which is synonymous with energy drinks in the market.

“With penetration of energy drinks between 5-10% of the carbonated beverages in India, there is huge upside for growth. Despite having almost a monopolistic nature as far as incumbents are concerned, the market is still growing at nearly 20%,” said Kartikeya Sharma, president – India and South East Asia president at AB InBev. “And importantly, the success we have seen with our foray zero alcohol beer for consumers who may not be necessarily beer drinkers, but still took to the product. These are the three reasons why we felt this is a category ripe for disruption.”

Rival United Breweries, which owns the Kingfisher brand, is by far the leader in the beer segment in India, controlling more than half the market while AB InBev is a distant second with about 20% share. However, AB InBev has more than 65% share in the premium segment, with a portfolio that includes Stella Artois, Leffe and Corona. Rival UB too has pricier products such as Kingfisher Ultra, Storm and Heineken, and has been growing in double-digits, but these account for less than 10% of its total sales.

In India, AB InBev generated 35% of its sales from premium brands until last year, which has now surged to 48%.

“When one thinks of launching a new innovation, you look at markets where the brand’s life extension should be in a very healthy state. For Budweiser, India is one of the top three markets in terms of growth and we are the market leader in the premium beer segment,” added Sharma.

The packaged non-alcoholic beverages market is forecasted to grow at a CAGR of 16.2% as per the Goldstein Market Intelligence analysis between 2017 and 2030 to reach $20.4 billion as more people opt for packaged drinks. India has a very strict regulation at the state level, with the number of outlets selling alcoholic products restricted. So the push will be towards non-alcoholic beer sub-segment, where it controls over half the market with Budweiser 0.0, Hoegaarden 0.0 and Hoegaarden Rosee 0.0.

However, unlike carbonated beverages companies that built their presence through supermarkets and modern trade, AB InBev has limited presence beyond wine shops and hotels, restaurants and caterers or HoReCa.

“Our priority number one is e-commerce and then comes modern trade and then traditional mom and pop stores. Horeca is a strength and we do know energy drinks play a role as mixers with a lot of the widespread categories. So we do expect that they are our incumbent strength and HoReCa will be a very synergetic aspect of our distribution,” said Sharma.

The company’s focus on premiumisation also comes at a time when there is a wave of new craft beer brand launches from labels such as Bira, White Rhino and Simba which count on a younger clientele seeking a more varied experience. India remains one of the largest beer markets, with more than 20-25 million people entering the legal age for drinking every year

Jubilant FoodWorks to bring US-based fast food chain Popeyes to India

Source: Business Standard, Mar 24, 2021

New Delhi: Food services company Jubilant FoodWorks Ltd (JFL) on Wednesday announced to introduce American multinational chain of fried chicken fast food restaurants ‘Popeyes’, to India.

The company announced to enter into an exclusive master franchise and development agreement with PLK APAC Pte Ltd, a subsidiary of Restaurant Brands International Inc (RBI), said a joint statement.

It added that the pact has been signed “to develop, establish, own and operate” hundreds of Popeyes restaurants in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan in the coming years, said a joint statement.

JFL Chairman Shyam S Bhartia and Co-Chairman Hari S Bhartia said, “We are happy to announce the signing of a multi-country agreement to acquire the exclusive rights to operate and sub-license the iconic Popeyes brand in India and neighbouring countries.”

He added that chicken is one of the largest and fastest-growing categories in India and is expected to grow rapidly in years to come.

Popeyes will be an exciting addition to the JFL portfolio and is expected to become one of the key drivers of growth for us in the coming years, he added.

Founded in New Orleans in 1972, Popeyes has over 45 years of history and culinary tradition.

It is one of the world’s largest chicken quick service restaurants with over 3,400 restaurants in over 25 countries around the globe.

Since its acquisition by RBI, Popeyes has expanded successfully into Spain, Switzerland, China, Brazil, Sri Lanka and the Philippines in the past few years.

“Popeyes will also enter the United Kingdom and build its presence in Mexico starting in 2021, with plans to open several hundreds of restaurants across both countries,” it said.

Jubilant FoodWorks, part of the Jubilant Bhartia Group, already holds the master franchise rights for two international brands Domino’s Pizza and Dunkin’ Donuts. The company also launched its first homegrown brand, ‘Hong’s Kitchen’, in Chinese cuisine segment.

20 projects worth Rs 363.4 crore sanctioned for infrastructure and expansion of food processing

Source: The Economic Times, Feb 17, 2021

New Delhi: Twenty projects leveraging an investment of Rs 363.40 crore supported with a grant of Rs 102.81 crore under the scheme for creation for infrastructure for agro-processing cluster (APC) and the scheme for creation and expansion of food processing and preservation capacities (CEFPPC) under pradhan mantri kisan sampada yojana (PMKSY) were sanctioned by the Inter Ministerial Approval Committee (IMAC) chaired by Food Processing minister Narendra Singh Tomar.

The projects are likely to generate employment for nearly 11,960 people and benefit 42,800 farmers.

“The proposals for projects approved in the IMAC meetings are expected to increase the level of processing and value addition of horticultural and agricultural produce, which will result in increase in the income of the farmers and create employment at the local level,” Tomar said.

Under the CEFPPC, 11 proposals with total project cost of Rs 113.08 crore including grants-in-aid of Rs 36.30 crore will come in the states of Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Karnataka, Mizoram, and Gujarat. The scheme approved since 2017 promotes processing and preservation of agro food products and modernization and capacity enhancement of food processing.

This will help in increasing the level of processing and value addition thereby reducing the wastage of agro-produce.

Further, under the scheme for Creation of Infrastructure for APC will encourage entrepreneurs to set up food processing units based on cluster approach. Under these nine proposals with a total project cost of Rs 250.32 crore including grants-in-aid of Rs 66.61 crore in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, and Rajasthan have been approved.

Food regulator FSSAI notifies regulations to limit trans fat in food items

Source: Business Standard, Feb 09, 2021

New Delhi: Food regulator FSSAI on Tuesday said regulations to limit the content of trans fat in all food items have been notified.

“With gazette of recent regulation to limit the content of trans fats in all food items, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) joins the league of several other nations globally having best practice policies for trans fat elimination,” the regulator said in a statement.

India joins the club of around 40 countries globally that have already enacted the best practice policies to eliminate trans fats and would be among the first countries in Asia after Thailand in achieving the best-practice policies in trans fat elimination, it said.

Under the regulation notified on December 29 last year, FSSAI said it has limited industrial TFA (trans fatty acids) to not more than 3 per cent in all fats and oils by January 2021 and not more than 2 per cent by January 2022.

The Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Second Amendment Regulations, 2021, has been notified earlier this month.

This regulation states that all food products in which edible oils and fats are used as an ingredient should not contain industrial trans fatty acids more than 2 per cent by mass of the total oils/fats present in the product, on and from January 1, 2022.

It also defines industrial trans fatty acids as: “All the geometrical isomers of mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids having non-conjugated, interrupted by at least one methylene group, carbon-carbon double bonds in the trans configuration. It excludes trans-fatty acids from dairy, meat, fish and their products.”

Industrial trans fats are produced by adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them solid, which increases their stability at room temperature and extends shelf life. Trans fats are largely present in partially hydrogenated vegetable fats/oils, vanaspati, margarine and bakery shortenings. They are found in baked and fried foods.

“Research has shown that higher intakes of industrially produced trans fatty acids (more than 1 per cent of total energy intake) are associated with increased risk of high cholesterol and heart diseases,” FSSAI said.

According to 2017 estimates, every year more than 1.5 million deaths in India is attributed to coronary heart disease, of which nearly 5 per cent (71,000) are due to trans fats intake.

Elimination of industrial TFA has been recognized as one the modifiable risk factors to prevent heart diseaes.

“This is especially important in the present scenario, when COVID -19 is adding risk to people suffering from comorbidities like hypertension, heart diseases, diabetes etc,” it added. In 2018, the WHO called for elimination of industrially-produced trans fat from the food supply by 2023 and released an action package ‘REPLACE’ for the same.

Liquor retail gets high street makeover

Source:, Feb 01, 2021

NEW DELHI: At a time when brick-and-mortar showrooms in several segments are shrinking in size, liquor retail in India is getting a premium makeover with large-format stores cropping up in every nook and cranny.

From the 15,000sqft Tonique in Hyderabad and North India’s largest booze shop – The Liquor Warehouse in Gurugram – to the 5,000sqft boutique liquor chain Madhuloka in Bengaluru and World of Wines in Mumbai, spirits retail has come a long way from the dingy desi thekas of yesteryear.

“Our store will give any luxury showroom in India a run for its money,” said Anith Reddy, the owner of Tonique. “We have in-house connoisseurs, sommeliers and even female bouncers because 30% of our customers are women.” With a 25,000sqft store in Bengaluru, Tonique rakes in more than Rs100 crore in sales from a store every year and has plans to expand to Delhi, Pune, Mumbai and smaller towns, which will have small-format stores. “We have plans to build a 40,000sqft store in Delhi and are watching the excise condition closely,” Reddy told TOI.

Lokesh Madhuloka, MD at Madhuloka, one of Bengaluru’s largest modern-retail format liquor chains, said, the trend has boomed in the last couple of years. “There are at least 450 similar stores in Bengaluru currently. The market is saturated,” he said. An increase in demand for premium spirits and the need to cater to a young swish clientele that prefers to avoid the jostling at local alcohol shops has given rise to more such stores.

“Companies are witnessing a strengthening of demand for premium spirits,” said Neeraj Kumar, MD at Beam Suntory. “With most consumption currently taking place at home, the wealthy consumer is willing to invest in luxury brands.” Large-format stores have also helped these spirits retailers rake in more moolah. The retailers’ ability to showcase a wider selection combined with the willingness of liquor companies to bring more global brands into India have led to growth in revenues.

Japan’s Kirin to invest $30 million in maker of Indian craft beer Bira

Source: Business Standard, Jan 04, 2021

NEW DELHI/TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s beer maker Kirin Holdings will invest $30 million in New Delhi-based B9 Beverages, the companies said on Monday, as it seeks to secure a spot in India’s growing craft beer market amid falling sales at home.

The Japanese brewer will acquire a stake of under 10% in B9, the maker of India’s popular craft beer Bira, a Kirin spokesman and Bira CEO Ankur Jain told Reuters. They declined to give further financial details.

B9 had been in talks with international brewers – including Kirin – and other investors to sell a stake of up to 20% in the company, Reuters reported in August.

The investment would allow Bira, which has posted losses in recent years and has been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, to break even in the 2022 fiscal year which starts in April 2021, Jain said.

“The companies will be exploring business synergies,” Jain said, adding that the investment would allow Bira to accelerate plans to launch its products in Japan later this year.

He expected the deal to be closed over “the next few days”.

While Bira, launched in 2015, is one of the smallest players in India’s broader beer industry, its craft beer offerings have become increasingly popular in recent years. Bira says it has a 5-10% share of the beer market in cities such as New Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru.

Kirin meanwhile has historically shown interest in independent breweries and owns a minority stake in New York’s Brooklyn Brewery.

But its M&A record overseas has been patchy, with the Japanese firm selling its unprofitable Brazilian unit in 2017 to Heineken after losing market share.

Its entry into Myanmar in 2015 has also come under scrutiny amid a probe into its local partner’s connections to the military. Data provider PitchBook estimates Bira was valued at $210 million in 2018. U.S.-based Sequoia Capital holds a roughly 45% stake in the company, while CEO Jain and his family own around 30%.

Swiggy partners govt to build ‘world’s largest’ street food vendor project

Source: Business Standard, Dec 10, 2020

Bengaluru: Food delivery and technology firm Swiggy is collaborating with the government for the Prime Minister Street Vendor’s AtmaNibhar Nidhi (PM SVANidhi) Scheme to a programme it has in 125 cities.This follows a successful pilot that Swiggy initiated with the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MoHUA) in the cities of Ahmedabad, Varanasi, Chennai, Delhi and Indore. In the pilot stage, Swiggy has already onboarded over 300 street vendors on its platform.

The SVANidhi scheme has received loan applications from 147,000 street food vendors so far. From these, in the first phase alone, Swiggy will onboard about 36,000 vendors to whom the loan has been disbursed in 125 cities, potentially making this initiative by Swiggy and MoHUA the largest of its kind not just in India, but globally.

Vivek Sunder, chief operating officer of Swiggy, said there has been a long-term change in consumer behaviour regarding continued social distancing and heightened demand for online services like food delivery. Read the rest of this entry »