New Delhi: Coca-Cola India Pvt. Ltd, the local unit of American beverages maker Coca-Cola Co., is set to launch whipped frozen fruit snacks, or frozen desserts, by the end of this year.

The company has already started test-marketing the products in select pockets of Bengaluru.

“We are piloting with a range of products that we call ‘Beverage Plus’. These will be made of locally sourced fruits. And these are not pure beverages. We are planning to launch them in the fourth quarter this year," said T. Krishnakumar, president (India and southwest Asia), Coca-Cola.

The move comes as part of the company’s global strategy to build a portfolio beyond carbonated drinks and offer more healthy options for its consumers worldwide. 

Going by the company’s test marketing approach, for starters, Coca-Cola is likely to leverage the institutional formats such as movie theatres and vending carts at malls for the new products. Krishnakumar declined to share further details of the new products.

Coca-Cola first started testing the market with whipped frozen fruit desserts, which it calls frozen fruit snacks, in Australia a little more than two years ago, under the brand name Perfect Fruit.

Perfect Fruit is sold by Coca-Cola Amatil, one of the largest bottlers of Coca-Cola globally. The American beverages maker also sells smoothies under the Minute Maid brand in Canada.

“This is an interesting play. While this may be Coca-Cola’s entry into the frozen segment, the company must be having the ambition to establish a much bigger presence in the segment and bring more fruit-based products, such as fruit nutrition bars," said Rajat Wahi, partner, management consulting at Deloitte India, commenting on the company’s focus on ‘Beverage Plus’ category.

“As the core business (carbonated beverages) is witnessing slower growth, the company has been trying to have a wider portfolio of healthier options. However, this is a crowded market and products have shorter self-life, which requires a different channel of retailing," he added.

The company, however, may not bring its international products to India. The frozen fruit desserts here are likely to be tweaked to suit the taste buds of local consumers.

India’s ice cream and frozen desserts market is projected to grow at an annual rate of 11% between 2016 and 2021 to reach 17,000 crore, according to a December 2016 study by market research firm Euromonitor International.

Coca-Cola, which has been witnessing slower growth in India over the past couple of years, is planning to launch a range of beverages, carbonated and non-carbonated, in Indian flavours such as jal-jeera, over the next few months.

As part of this, Coca-Cola is reviving RimZim to launch jal-jeera nationwide. The company bought the brand RimZim, originally a masala soda drink brand, from Ramesh Chauhan of Parle in 1990s along with other cola brands such as ThumsUp, Maaza and Limca, among others.

“There’s demand for ethnic flavours in the market. And, we found this opportunity in the ethnic sparkling beverage based on consumer preferences. We’ll take RimZim national over the next few months," added Krishnakumar.

In the last few years, several companies have launched a bunch of products in ethnic flavours. While companies like home-grown Dabur are relatively new to join the party with products like Hajmola Yoodley, it was Hector Beverages that markets Paperboat which popularized the ethnic flavoured drinks in unique packaging.

“We are also extending our water brand Kinley to a range of aerated drinks with flavours such as lemon, orange and jeera. “We are piloting these beverages in states like Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, among others. We would be launching them soon," added the Coca-Cola president.

In the past couple of years, Coca-Cola India has increased focus on the non-carbonated beverages segment and has launched products such as Vio (a milk-based drink) and Zico (packaged coconut water).

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