Home / Industry / Retail /  Why Coca-Cola prefers Maaza

Mumbai: Maaza, the mango drink owned by Coca-Cola Co.’s Indian unit, has emerged as the largest beverage brand in India with annual sales of $400 million, which the company said it’s aiming to increase to $1 billion by 2023.

That would imply a compound annual growth rate of around 12% in sales of the 40-year-old beverage. Its growing popularity may be an indication of a larger trend in the beverage market, a consumer shift away from aerated drinks to fruit-based ones.

“We will invest in introducing affordable and value-for-money juice packs, expanding distribution, and augmenting manufacturing capacity to double sales," said Venkatesh Kini, president, Coca-Cola India and South West Asia, at a press conference in Mumbai on Wednesday.

Only 20% of Indians have tried Maaza 40 years after its introduction, he said. “There is still an opportunity for the remaining 80% people to try it," Kini added.

Maaza uses 70,000 tonnes of mangoes collected from over 50,000 farmers. Over the next eight years, the company is looking at doubling its production capacity to process 140,000 tonnes of mangoes bought from 100,000 farmers.

One of Coca-Cola’s suppliers, Jain Irrigation Systems Ltd, supplies 60-65% or 45,000-50,000 tonnes of mango pulp used in the annual production of Maaza.

It announced approximately two months ago that it was doubling its capacity with an investment of 350 crore in Andhra Pradesh for setting up an agro-horticulture park to support Maaza’s growth, according to Sunil Deshpande, vice-president marketing and business development, Jain Irrigation. Deshpande was speaking on the sidelines of the press conference on Wednesday.

Maaza is the largest brand by value in the soft drinks segment in India, ahead of Sprite, also made by Coca-Cola, which is the largest brand by volume, according to data from Euromonitor International.

Juices and fruit-based drinks have taken the fizz out of aerated drinks. In 2015, juices saw a volume growth rate of 20.06% and value growth rate of 25.78% over 2014. Fizzy drinks grew 8.42% by volume and 10.82% by value, according to Euromonitor.

Mango-based drinks account for the biggest chunk of the juice-based drinks category in the country. Other brands in the category include Parle Agro Pvt. Ltd’s Frooti and PepsiCo India Holdings Pvt. Ltd’s Slice.

Maaza was acquired by Coca-Cola India in 1993 from Parle Bisleri Ltd along with other brands such as Limca, Citra, Thums Up and Gold Spot.

“It makes sense for the company to focus on fruit-based beverages for growth as that’s the category that is seeing huge growth. The young consumer is steering away from carbonates given the huge negative social media noise that it’s attracting," said Anil Talreja, partner at consulting firm Deloitte Haskins and Sells.

Fizzy drinks such as colas also attract high taxes, as much as up to 40% in some states in India, putting them in the same category as liquor and tobacco. Such high taxes also made these drinks unattractive to consumers.

In 2012, Coca-Cola announced investments of 30,000 crore in India over the following eight years to double its sales in the country. The spending on Maaza’s expansion is a part of that investment, said Kini.

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