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How Areez Khambatta's Rasna became middle class India's favourite drink

How Areez Khambatta's Rasna became middle class India's favourite drink

The company is now the world’s largest soft drink concentrate manufacturer. Rasna is sold across 60 countries, and across 1.8 million retail outlets in the country.

Areez Khambatta passed away on Saturday Areez Khambatta passed away on Saturday

Areez Pirojshaw Khambatta, who passed away on Saturday, was not only an industry doyen, but was also known for transforming the way India consumed refreshments. The time was opportune as India had not only achieved Independence a few decades ago, but also the middle-class was slowly emerging with its own aspirations. 

Equipped with a company handed over by his father Phiroja Khambatta, Areez Khambatta recognised the need of the rising middle class and gave them a new kind of soft drink in a glass. In a market populated by the popular drinks of Gold Spot, Thumbs up and Limca in the 1970s, Khambatta gave them the soft drink concentrate, Rasna. It started gaining popularity by the 80s. 

The new drink had resonated with the consumers with its orange avatar and freshness. Not only that, it was affordable too. A pack of Rasna costing Rs 5 could be converted into 32 glasses of soft drinks, amounting to 15 paise per glass. 

To top it all, the advertising campaign, complete with the Rasna girl – in line with the Nirma and Amul girls – saying “I love you, Rasna”, buoyed the popularity of the soft drink concentrate. The campaign captured the imagination of consumers in the 1980-90s.  

A news article from 2012 stated that the company had roped in brand ambassadors such as Karishma Kapoor, Hrithik Roshan, Anupam Kher, Paresh Rawal, Kapil Dev, and Genelia D’souza across years. Areez Khambatta’s son, and current Group Chairman Piruz Khambatta believes that it is important to appeal to the present generation and hence important to keep changing celebrities as it would give a fresh look to the product. He feels that nothing much changes in a brand over a period but a celebrity changes the perception of the brand.    

The company is now the world’s largest soft drink concentrate manufacturer. Rasna is sold across 60 countries, and across 1.8 million retail outlets in the country. Rasna has nine manufacturing plants and a distribution network of 26 depots, 200 super stockists, 5,000 stockists, 900 salesforce across the country.

Rasna has been bestowed multiple awards over the years too including Superior Taste Award 2008 instituted by The International Taste and Quality Institute, Belgium Cannes Lions London, Monde Selection Award, Master Brand The World Brand Congress Award and ITQI superior taste and quality award.

But a flourishing business was not the only focus of Areez Khambatta. He was known for his contribution to society also. "Khambatta has contributed immensely to Indian industry, business, and most importantly societal development through social service," said the statement by the company upon his passing.

Khambatta was the Chairman of Areez Khambatta Benevolent Trust and Rasna Foundation that are involved in various projects in sectors of healthcare, education, scholarship etc. He also served as the President of the WAPIZ (World Alliance of Parsi Irani Zarthostis) and Ahmedabad Parsi Panchayat, as well as the Vice President of the Federation of Parsi Zoroastrian Anjumans of India.

Areez Khambatta was the Commandant of Ahmedabad Home Guards & Civil Defence for 20 years. 

He was honoured with the National Citizen’s Award for his contribution in the field of commerce by former President Shankar Dayal Sharma. Khambatta was also awarded the President’s Home Guard & Civil Defence Medal, and the Paschimi Star, Samarseva and Sangram medals. 

The 85-year-old industrialist was suffering from prolonged illness, and passed away on November 19. Areez Khambatta is survived by his wife Persis, and children Piruz, Delna, and Ruzan, his daughter-in-law Binaisha, and grandkids Arzeen, Arzad, Avan, Areez, Firoza and Arnavaz.

Also read: Rasna founder Areez Pirojshaw Khambatta passes away at 85