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Drink that fizz out
Sangeeta Singh
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June 25, 2005

Dabur Foods and PepsiCo, market leaders in the Rs 180 crore (Rs 1.8 billion) juice industry, need to watch out this summer, for the heat may scorch them. There are no less than 10 other non-carbonated drinks in the market, four or five in the juice segment itself.

Top on the list of newcomers are Tuk 3, Kohinoor and B Natural. While Kohinoor comes as a guava-apple mix, B Natural is a mixed fruit cocktail with apple, strawberry and banana.

To wean customers from their usual apple or orange juices, these players are not only offering fruit concoctions but also offers like buy-one-get-one free and have flooded the shelves of superstores.

Not just that. Biggies like Hindustan Lever [Get Quote] and Amul have launched their new drinks and are cashing in on their distribution networks to make quick inroads all over India.

While Amul's Masti Spiced Buttermilk is available even at the Vaishno Devi shrine, Lipton Ice Tea is selling in metros and mini metros. Besides, energy and health drinks are proving good alternatives to high-calorie carbonated waters.

Cashing in on the trend of young consumers looking for healthy products, Hindustan Lever Limited has launched a 250-ml glass bottle of iced tea for Rs 9.

The company is targetting young adults in the 18-28 year age group. "Out of home and on the go consumption among the younger generation is increasing and Lipton Ice Tea, which offers natural vitality, responds to this," says an HLL spokesperson.

To give its consumers a truly international experience, Lipton IceTea is also available in 245 ml cans, 200 ml vending cups and one-litre tetrapacks for Rs 20, Rs 10 and Rs 49 respectively.

Gujarat Milk Cooperative Marketing Federation's Masti Spiced Buttermilk (masala chhach) is being retailed across the country through its 3,000 odd distribtutors. And with the consumers' ever-growing craze for healthy food, this sub-50 calorie drink has caught on very well.

Priced democratically at Rs 5 for a 200 ml pack, this drink is also helping BJP workers maintain their cool and is liberally being served at the party headquarters in Delhi.

Then there is Mother Dairy's Safal brand which is seen as a major competitor. Mother Dairy claims Safal offers absolute value for money. It sell its one litre juice under the brand name Safal at Rs 60. Dabur's [Get Quote] Real and PepsiCo's Tropicana are in the Rs 65 plus category.

This season the company is introducing mango and guava variants. And Paul Thachil, CEO, Mother Dairy is hopeful that Safal can be one of the largest selling juices because of its distribution network and low price. "With 1,400 outlets and Safal being 10-15 per cent cheaper than its competitors, we have an edge," says Thachil.

But PepsiCo has not given up as far as adding novelty is concerned. It has added mango and guava nectar flavours to its Tropicana range. Also, it's launched a special edition of Mirinda, the Batman Blast Berry Fusion for two months, as an in-and-out drink.

The drink is a combination of grapes and black currant, and according to Lloyd Mathias, executive vice president, PepsiCo, is based on thorough research. However, Pepsi's idea is different; it is to commemorate the release of the Hollywood blockbuster Batman Begins.

These drinks are available in 200, 300 and 600 mls priced at Rs 6, 8 and 18 respectively. "The special edition is Pepsi's endeavour to offer its customers something new. For instance, we launched Pepsi Blue during the world cup," says Mathias.

Again, Dabur Foods's Real, which claims a 60 per cent marketshare, has added lemon-barley and muskmelon variants to add to the Coolers range of aampanna, pomegranate and watermelon this summer.

Dabur does sales of Rs 7 crore (Rs 70 million) out of its Rs 110 crore (Rs 1.10 billion) juice business. It has also experimented with combining fruits and vegetables, and has just launched orange-carrot-mixed fruit, cucumber-spinach-mixed fruit and beetroot-carrot-mixed fruit juices.

With prices in the Rs 65-68 /litre range for most of the brands and Rs 78 for the new fruit-vegetable category, Real juices are perceived to be expensive.

"Not really, Tropicana is more expensive than us. Besides, we are still the largest player in the juice segment. That illustrates that people are ready to pay for quality," says Amit Burman, CEO, Dabur Foods.

Dabur and Tropicana also seem to have withstood competition in the past, when Leh Berry with seabuckthorn made waves in the market two years back.

If market sources are to be believed, Ladakh Foods, the company making Leh Berry, ran into problems with the Jammu & Kashmir government over sourcing of seabuckthorn. But for those hooked on to seabuckthorn, there is hope in Tuk 3, which uses this.

For sportsmen and gymmers, Austrian energy drink Fullpower has made inroads into India. Priced at Rs 75 for a 250 ml can and with just 42 calories, the drink may give the existing energy drink, Red Bull which sells at Rs 95, stiff competition.

"Loaded with vitamins, taurine, caffeine and glucuronolactone, it does not only replenish our essential body fluids but also gives us more energy," says Ajay Hasija, managing director, Fullpower.

The company is currently selling through retail outlets in metros and Hasija claims 70,000 cases have already been sold since its launch in February.

Fullpower is also aiming to sell the drink through outlets in gymnasiums and sports complexes. Red Bull or Fullpower are also being used by bartenders for making cocktails.

Since only 15-20 per cent of the people are juice-drinkers, there is room for the market to expand. And with all the choice, prices are bound to come down as well.

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