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Wednesday, Nov 13, 2002

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Coke goes mass with Georgia tea, coffee

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Mr Sanjiv Gupta, Deputy President, Coca-Cola India, at a press conference in New Delhi on Tuesday.

NEW DELHI, Nov. 12

IN line with its objective of becoming a `complete beverages company', soft drinks major, Coca-Cola India, today announced its intention of tapping the mass market with its ready-to-drink Georgia brand of tea and coffee, to be priced at Rs 4 and Rs 5 per cup respectively.

To begin with, Georgia tea and coffee is being introduced in Delhi and Kolkata.

Calling this the company's biggest diversification within beverages in India, Mr Sanjiv Gupta, Deputy President, Coca-Cola India, told newspersons here today that the company was investing substantially in state-of-the-art digital machines, in-built water management techniques and eco-friendly paper cups to ensure consistent quality and hygiene standards. "Since 70 per cent of the Indian commercial market comprises tea and coffee, we are confident of the success of Georgia,'' Mr Gupta said. Four types of vending equipment - ranging from one canister to four canister machines - will be placed at conventional retail outlets depending on the traffic the outlet generates, Mr Gupta said.

He said the company was targeting 15 per cent of its conventional soft drink outlets to place vending machines to dispense tea and coffee.

The tea, coffee, milk and other ingredients needed for these hot beverages are being sourced locally.

While Georgia tea is being made available in four flavours - regular, cardamom, ginger and masala, Georgia coffee is being introduced in cappuccino and moccaccino blends in addition to the regular variant. "The idea is to offer customised offerings across the country,'' Mr Gupta said.

Earlier this year, the company had entered into a tie-up with quick service chain McDonald's to retail its premium ready-to-serve hot coffee and tea under the Georgia Gold brand, priced between Rs 14-21 per cup, through McDonald's outlets.

Coca-Cola has been trading in tea and coffee as commodities by exporting these from the country since 1993 but it has only now forayed into the ready-to-drink segment.

On whether Georgia would be extended to iced tea, Mr Gupta said that it was not on the company's immediate agenda. "The market for cold beverages other than soft drinks is small in India and this product will have to wait.''

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