Tuesday 20 April 2021

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Economy | Industry

Coke seeking out new bottlers for Goa market


With Coca-Cola losing its Goa franchise bottlers to Pepsi, the former is now negotiating with small local bottlers in Goa to produce and market its famous Bisleri soda while a unit in Mangalore, southwest Karnataka, has been contacted for bottling its other soft drink flavours.

As part of its "strategy," Coke officials have decided not to talk to the media, and Coke officials ask, "Is there any issue to talk about?" The officials' claim that Coke's regular stock has been reaching the market without interruption.

The Coke-Pepsi battle took an interesting turn in Goa when the former's franchise bottler # the Goa Bottling Company # terminated its contract and joined hands with the Pepsi Foods Ltd on November 22.

Coca-Cola India sources claim they were prepared for such an eventuality though negotiations were on till the last minute with GBC to continue the franchise. The sources say new Coke bottles were available in Goa even after the separation was formally announced. And despite the increase in cost suffered by Coke in having to transport its bottles over much longer distances, the price line has still been maintained.

To help the local office tide over the difficulties, 60 officials from the United States and Delhi have descended upon the small state. At present, stocked bottles are being marketed, with the bottles coming from outside the state. However, Coke officials remain unsure for how long they will be able to carry out this operation of getting bottles from eight different regions outside the state at a considerable cost and at a time when the tourist season has just begun.

Negotiations are already on with few small local bottlers, including the unit who had the Coke franchise in the pre-1977 period (when Coca-Cola was asked to terminate its operations by the government), to bottle its popular Bisleri soda. And in order to meet the increased demand from the state during with the tourist season peaks, a tie-up with a Mangalorean company has been explored for bottling Coca-Cola, Fanta and the soft drinks of Parle such as Thums Up, Limca, and Gold Spot.

Coca-Cola officials are also busy negotiating with GCB to get back its assets which now belong to the latter, including bottles and crates worth Rs 130 million. So far, Coke had a 70-per cent market share in Goa.

The Goa Bottling Company has replaced all the Coke hoardings and other advertising displays with those of Pepsi while the GCB's red Coke vans have already been painted blue for Pepsi. Coke is presently being marketed in hired vehicles.

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