Coca-Cola India Pvt. Ltd is looking to launch Thums Up—the country’s most successful carbonated beverage—in neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Nepal by the end of March, the company announced in Kolkata on Friday.

Launched in 1977 by Parle Agro Pvt. Ltd at a time when The Coca-Cola Co. was withdrawing from India, Thums Up quickly became India’s biggest cola brand, trumping competitors such as Campa Cola and Double Seven.

In 1993, The Coca-Cola Co. returned to India and acquired rights to Thums Up, along with other Parle Agro brands such as Gold Spot and Mazaa, to take on Pepsi.

Over the past quarter of a century, revenue from Thums Up has been scaled up to around Rs6,000 crore and it is now poised to become a $1 billion brand, joining other Coca-Cola brands of that scale such as Fanta and Georgia, said T. Krishnakumar, president, Coca-Cola India.

Fruit beverage Mazaa, also acquired from Parle Agro, is also expected to become a $1 billion brand by 2023, according to Krishnakumar.

Bangladesh will be the first overseas market where Thums Up will be launched, according to a spokesperson for Coca-Cola India. Last year, a study was conducted in all these target markets and it was found that consumers in these countries had a similar taste for strong foods and beverages, he said, adding that if Thums Up worked in India, it would work in these countries as well.

The product will be manufactured and marketed locally, said Krishnakumar.

“It is a pretty serious move for us," he said. Coca-Cola India will “market and create equity" for Thums Up in the new overseas markets, he added.

India is currently the sixth biggest market for The Coca-Cola Co., said John Murphy, president for the Asia-Pacific region. India is set to overtake Japan within the next two years and become the fifth largest, he added. In India, the US cola giant is pushing for growth in sales of its fruit beverages such as Minute Maid.

The company will launch frozen desserts under the Minute Maid brand in India this summer, Murphy said.

Although Coca-Cola India has in recent times faced some headwinds, “broader trends remain very optimistic", Murphy added.

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