Coca-Cola is finally set to introduce its biggest fruit juice brand, Minute Maid, in the country within the next six-eight weeks.
“Minute Maid is scheduled to be introduced in select pockets such as the southern and western regions to begin with. Depending on consumer offtake, the brand will be rolled out nationally,” sources said. Coca-Cola India had originally planned to introduce Minute Maid in the last quarter of 2006.
Minute Maid is expected to be introduced in PET bottles initially, and returnable glass bottles later in the year, sources said. The brand will be priced to compete head on with rival PepsiCo's Tropicana and Dabur Food's Real, both of which control over three-fourths of the Rs 120-crore juice market.
When contacted by ET, a Coca-Cola spokesperson said, “The final roll-out plan for Minute Maid is still being worked out.” According to sources, Minute Maid is being bottled at Coca-Cola's plants in Tirupati and Bareilly. Sources say, the brand will be introduced in its flagship orange variant initially, and later extended to other flavours such as lemon.
In line with consumer preferences which are increasingly getting skewed towards health and wellness products, both soft drink companies have been pushing their non-carbonated portfolios aggressively. In contrast to carbonated beverages which have been growing at 10-12%, healthier beverages such as fruit-based drinks and sports drinks have been registering a healthy 30-40% growth.
The fruit-based drink market is estimated at about Rs 500 crore. Leading brands in this category include Maaza from the Coke stable which leads the pack with a market share of over 30%, followed by Frooti from Parle, and PepsiCo's Slice and Gatorade.
Interestingly, Minute Maid's India launch comes at a time when Coca-Cola's Atlanta-based parent is planning to relaunch the brand around Easter, with changes in packaging and labelling. In some markets like the US and UK, the brand has been registering slow growth rates in the absence of a clear positioning.