The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has released a definition for carbonated fruit beverages.
It has notified that beverages with fruit juice quantity below 10% but not less than 5%, and 2.5% in case of lime or lemon, should be called carbonated beverage with fruit juice.
This is part of the 11th amendment of the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) regulations, 2016. “… in such cases the requirement of TSS (total soluble solids) shall not apply and the quantity of fruit juice shall be declared on the label," the FSSAI notification, which came through The Gazette of India dated 25 October and was uploaded on FSSAI’s website on 1 November, read. TSS determines the quality of fruit juice content in beverages.
Before this, FSSAI guidelines on aerated beverages did not define carbonated fruit beverages and there was no set standard that the industry could have followed. In June, the food regulator had released a draft notification, defining ‘carbonated fruit beverages or carbonated fruit drinks’, seeking views from industry within two months.
The prescribed fruit content level, however, is much higher than what the industry had asked for. Indian Beverages Association, an industry lobby that bats for beverages companies, had asked the regulator to lower the fruit juice content threshold in carbonated beverages from 10% (minimum) to 3%.
The definition of fruit-based carbonated beverages came more than two years after Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged multinational carbonated beverages companies like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo to mix natural fruit juice (at least 5%) in aerated beverages to help augment fruit sales for Indian farmers. “Millions of people buy Pepsi and Coke. I have asked these companies if they can put 5% natural juice in their drinks," Modi had said in September 2014.
Some of the beverages makers have already launched carbonated beverages with fruit content during the past one year.
Coca-Cola India, the local arm of American beverage maker Coca-Cola Co., already sells Fanta Green Mango, a carbonated drink that has 10.4% fruit content. Rival PepsiCo India Holdings Pvt. Ltd, the local arm of American food and beverages company PepsiCo Inc, sells Nimbooz Masala Soda, a juice-based (5% lemon juice) aerated beverage.
While Coca-Cola started piloting with Fanta Green Mango about a year after Modi’s speech, PepsiCo had launched Nimbooz Masala Soda nationally in the summer of 2015.
Both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have been working on more fruit-based carbonated beverages and were waiting for FSSAI to come out with clear guidelines. Both the companies have plans to launch more products in the category over the next few years, Mint reported on 22 July.
Not just Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, in July home-grown Dabur India Ltd entered into the fizzy drinks market by launching a range of fruit juice-based aerated drinks under the brand—Réal VOLO, which the company claims has 20-25% fruit juice content.
Mumbai-based Parle Agro Pvt. Ltd sells Appy Fizz. In February, Bisleri International launched Bisleri Pop, an aerated fruit-based drink, to re-enter the carbonated beverages market that it exited in 1993 after its promoter Ramesh Chauhan sold five popular brands—Thums Up, Limca, Gold Spot, Maaza and Citra— to Coca-Cola. Chauhan had a non-compete agreement with Coca-Cola that expired in 2008.
During the past few years, cola companies have seen sales of carbonated beverages being impacted with consumers opting for juices and fruit-based drinks. In 2015, juices saw a volume growth of 20.06% and a value growth of 25.78% over the previous year. Fizzy drinks, in the same period, grew 8.42% by volume and 10.82% by value, according to market research firm Euromonitor International.