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A scorching March for drinks, ACs

26-March-2004
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A scorching March for drinks, ACs

The sun is smiling on the country’s soft drink, packaged water, airconditioner and beer companies. The early onset of summer has caused a sharp rise in their sales in the last few weeks. A prolonged monsoon had severely dented sales of these products last year.

After also being battered last year by the pesticides controversy, soft drink companies say January-March sales are up 35-40 per cent. While packaged water producers claim sales have risen 30 per cent, airconditioner makers have reported a rise of 20 per cent and beer producers 10 per cent.

Temperatures across the country are 7-10 degrees Celsius above normal. According to the meteorological department, this is the hottest March in the last 31 years. For several companies, this is sheer music.

“Bisleri’s sales in the past few weeks have been over 30 per cent. Although we have increased our penetration in a big way this year, the seasonality is helping,” Bisleri Chairman Ramesh Chauhan said.

“The season has got off to a good and early start,” said Shaw Wallace Breweries Managing Director Richard Rushton. Added a senior UB Group executive, “There would have been a decline in beer sales in 2003-04 had it not been for the 10 per cent surge during January-February.”

According to Sunil Gupta, vice-president (corporate affairs), Coca-Cola India, “Besides the lowering of our price points and improved availability, the early onset of summer has definitely boosted our sales in the last few weeks.” He claimed that sales of soft drink concentrate Sunfil, too, had been brisk.

A Pepsi spokesperson said with the temperature being several degrees above average, the sales pick-up had been healthy. Pepsi has just completed a $100 million investment to expand capacity for the coming season.

“The temperature in parts of western and southern India are already above 40 degrees Celsius and that has helped increase AC sales by around 20 per cent,” said KJ Jawa, vice-president, Voltas.

According to Jawa, the early half of summer last year was bad for the industry because of unseasonal rain in many parts of the country and also the transporters’ strike.

Salil Kapoor, head (ACs), LG India, attributed a significant part of the company’s 60 per cent growth since January to the unusually hot weather.

"If these conditions prevail, we will easily achieve our sales target of 400,000 units this year," he said.

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