Mumbai: India is on track to become Coca-Cola’s top three market in volumes in the next three years with the local market expected to jump into the league of top five markets by the end of 2019, a top company executive said.

“The vision for India to be in the top three markets continues. It is sixth at the moment. It will probably be fifth by the end of this year. So, we think there is a lot of potential for the Indian business to grow," James Quincey, president and chief executive of American beverage firm Coca-Cola, said in an interview.

He was in India to attend the wedding of Akash Ambani.

Quincey said sparkling and fruit juice segments will be main areas of focus for the company in India.

In the interview, Quincey revealed his current economic views on India.

“It is not a straight line growth in India and everyone had to accommodate to some of the changes in terms of demonetization and general sales. But it is good for the long term," said Quincey.

Coca-Cola, the company's signature cola flavored aerated beverage, which also generates the biggest chunk of sales, has seen its sales fall and market share shrink due to consumer preference shifting towards fruit-based drinks from aerated beverages.

The company also had to increase prices of their canned beverages when US president Donald Trump increased tariffs on steel and aluminum imported from China. “When there are trade disputes it tends to flow more through indirect consumer channels. Tariffs were on aluminium and obviously we use aluminium cans in our businesses. So the prices of cans went up and ultimately we passed it through to the consumers," Quincey added.

But he also added that since Coca-Cola Company has multiple channels, the increase in import tariffs did not create an “all or nothing" kind of impact on their business as most of the manufacturing is taken up by local entities of any country.

As far as their India strategy is concerned, the company has already partnered with agriculture companies like Jain Farm Fresh Foods Ltd., among others, to provide more fruit-based beverages in line with consumer preferences.

"Sparkling fruit-based beverages is the future," said T. Krishnakumar, CEO of Coca-Cola India and South West Asia. “One of them is going to be a sparkling beverage, with about 20% apple juice," he added.

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