India has emerged as the fifth largest business hub for the $37.2 billion American beverage giant, The Coca-Cola Company, and is on its way to becoming the third-largest market for the company, says Chairman and CEO, James Quincey.
The Coke head honcho said he was in India to celebrate his Indian arm's 1 billion-unit case sale landmark in 2019. "It's taken us 21 years to get to a billion unique cases. We see India as a super-attractive market, we will continue to invest, continue to build a business," Quincey said.
At a time when most consumer goods companies have been complaining of growth slowing down, Quincey claimed that 2019 was an exciting year for the company. "We are not overly concerned about one quarter up or one quarter down in India or any of the other markets around the world. What we're focused on is to continue to invest for the long term and the medium term. So far this year, we've seen good demand from consumers, and we don't see a problem in 2020."
Ever since Quincey took over the reins of the company in 2017, he had been talking about going hyper-local, not just by offering local Indian beverages but also by growing the Indian agri-ecosystem for the next five years under its fruit circular economy initiative. For this, Quincey had committed investment worth Rs 11,000 crore.
"We are well on track and we will complete the investment," said T Krishnakumar, President, Coca-Cola India. The company is supporting mango farmers in Andhra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, orange farmers in Maharashtra, litchi farmers in Bihar and apple farmers in Uttarakhand.
Does the company's focus on fruit-based beverages indicate a dip in interest in its sparkling beverages? "Sparkling continues to grow as we are making them more relevant to consumers. Brands such as Thums Up and Limca are doing extremely well," said Quincey.
However, the emphasis is on making sparkling beverages healthier by reducing sugar levels. "The plan is to reduce the sugar levels to below six grammes in the next 3-4 years," claimed Krishnakumar. Quincey also talked about substantially reducing carbon footprint by recycling its PET bottles.
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