After exiting the carbonated soft drinks (CSD) category around two decades ago, Parle Agro is once again hopeful about prospects in this segment and is all set to enter the market with a new coffee flavoured fizzy drink christened Café Cuba. In 1993, the company surrendered to the vice-like grip of beverage multinationals in India, and sold iconic brands such as Thums Up, Limca, Gold Spot and Citra to the Coca-Cola Company. A non-compete clause which was part of the arrangement ensured that Parle Agro stayed out of the carbonated segment for a good many years. In the meantime, the company focused on its fruit based drinks portfolio and built brands such as Frooti, Appy and Appy Fizz. Apart from its beverages portfolio, the company also sells packaged water Bailey, Softease toffees and baked chips Hippo. Parle Agro today has a turnover of R2000 crore, up from R300 crore in year 2003.
Parle Agro now aspires to be an R5000 crore worth company by 2015. Café Cuba is aptly titled and draws inspiration from the revolution in Cuba. “This beverage is a revolution in the carbonated drinks space. We are excited to be creating a completely new category for the CSD segment and are proud to be the leaders when it comes to innovations and trends in this segment. Having been in the industry for nearly 30 years, Parle Agro has always believed in refreshing India with innovative products and refreshing the market with new categories,” said Prakash Chauhan, chairman and managing director, Parle Agro, adding that a unique product such as this one is a first, not just for India, but for many countries.
“The carbonated coffee flavour is distinct from the three flavors— lemon, orange and cola—that beverage companies usually focus on. We did a market test launch of 3 million units and the response was very positive. Café Cuba will generate R1000 crore in the first 12-18 months,” he said. The company has earmarked R50 crore for the marketing and promotion of the drink, and it is slated to be available in the January-February period of 2014. The company is not likely to sign up a celebrity endorser. “The drink is the best brand ambassador,” quips Chauhan.
Nikhil Vora, managing director and research head of IDFC Securities, said that the overall size of the carbonated drinks market in India is R150 billion. The leading brands in this segment go