PepsiCo rolls out zero-calorie Pepsi Black in India

Pepsi Black will be available in cans initially and the company may look at bringing PET bottles in the next 6-8 months


PepsiCo has globally shifted focus from its ‘Fun-for-You’ products such as carbonated beverages and snacks. Photo: Reuters
PepsiCo has globally shifted focus from its ‘Fun-for-You’ products such as carbonated beverages and snacks. Photo: Reuters

New Delhi:PepsiCo India Holdings Pvt. Ltd on Tuesday introduced Pepsi Black, a canned zero-calorie carbonated beverage priced at Rs25, as part of its plan to intensify focus on health and nutrition, reduce sugar content in beverages. “We are investing to reduce sugars in our global beverages in line with our ‘portfolio with purpose 2025’ goal. We are looking forward to bringing more variants of existing products in zero calories or no-sugar category. We’ll keep rolling out products every 2-3 months,” said Vipul Prakash, senior vice-president (beverages category), PepsiCo India.

At present, PepsiCo sells Diet Pepsi, a low-calorie version of its flagship drink, in India. It had, in 2010, launched Pepsi Max, a sugar-free low-calorie cola, in India but discontinued it soon after. Its rival Coca-Cola Co. started selling Coke Zero, its zero calorie cola, in India in September 2014 and had been selling Diet Coke, the low-calorie version of Coca-Cola, few years before that. It also sells Sprite Zero.

Pepsi Black will be available in cans initially and the company may look at bringing PET bottles in the next 6-8 months.

Last year, the company launched a version of 7UP with 30% less sugar in Gujarat.

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In India, the market for low-calorie (diets and lights) sparkling drinks has been growing fast. The category grew at 39% between September 2014 and August 2015, while the growth rate was 13% between 2010 and 2014, according to estimates by market research firm Nielsen.

Globally, PepsiCo has shifted focus from its ‘Fun-for-You’ products such as carbonated beverages and snacks and its global chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi is steering the company towards a purpose-driven future. The company now wants to make products healthier, empower employees and encourage environmental responsibility. Health and nutrition as a category accounted for more than 25% of PepsiCo’s revenue in 2015.

Besides pushing healthier products, Prakash said the company has started focusing on local sentiments in India to ensure growth even in carbonated beverages. As part of its summer promotions, labels of Pepsi cans and bottles will have popular and colloquial words in eight different Indian languages. Words like Muah, Dhaakad (for north Indian market), Jhakaas (for Mumbai market), Adipoli (for Kerala) and Fatafati, Ghyaam, Fullbawaal (for Bengal market) are now printed on the labels of Pepsi cans and bottles as part of Pepsi’s new ‘Moments’ campaign conceptualised by J. Walter Thompson.

“This is a first-ever for Pepsi in India; we are going local in terms of communications through packaging, which is the biggest piece of real estate we can leverage to reach out to consumers,” said Prakash.

PepsiCo is also exploring possibilities of launching beverages in local flavours, more suited to regional tastes. It may look at bringing these under brands like 7UP and Mirinda, said Prakash. It may launch such products next year.

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