Coca-Cola India said that unseasonal rains in parts of the country made it a “challenging” summer season for the company. The beverage major said it has also sharpened focus on growing rural footprint.

Speaking on the sidelines of an event organised by the Indian Beverage Association, Sundeep Bajoria, Vice-President, Coca-Cola India, said, “Due to unseasonal rains it was a challenging summer season. But we can’t change the weather. India has seen summer rains every few years and I don’t see this changing. We continued to focus on strengthening consumer connect, growing household penetration and distribution to more outlets.”.

Deseasonlisation strategy

In recent years, the company has also embarked on a deseasonlisation strategy in a bid to grow relevance of its beverage portfolio in non-summer season. “Summer season remains a driver for consumption particularly for away-from-home channel. But we have been focusing on building consumption occasions and increasing the reach of our products even outside of the summer-season,” he added.

Rising competition

Responding to a query on entry of new players and intensifying competition, Bajoria said, “We welcome competition. After a long time, the beverage sector in India has started to attract investments and new players. This is clearly a validation that we are on the right track and that we are in a very attractive industry and the investments that we are making are absolutely in the right place. We are still at a very, very nascent stage in terms of development of beverages as an industry.

.He added that the company’s penetration is still low in rural markets. “Our focus is on how we continuously keep expanding across outlets, recruit more consumers and grow the reach from the rural perspective. So rural offers us an opportunity for growth. We exited the summer season better than how we entered the season,” Bajoria said.

Bajoria said the company will continue to offer “choices” to consumers and has a “busy” pipeline of products which will be launched based on supply-chain readiness.