Coca-Cola sees fizz in India’s innovation potential

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani New Delhi | Updated on September 02, 2019 Published on September 02, 2019

Shell Huang, Vice-President, R&D, Asia-Pacific

The company has launched 25 new products in the last three years

American beverage major Coca-Cola is betting big on India as a key growth engine for innovations in new products and packaging offerings in the Asia-Pacific region.

Shell Huang, Vice-President, R&D, Asia-Pacific, The Coca Cola Company, told BusinessLine, “While the Asia-Pacific region is the growth engine for the Coca-Cola Company, India is one of the key growth engines for the region. We are also learning a lot from our Indian business unit about being agile and swift when it comes to introducing innovations. Innovation is becoming more and more important as we focus on becoming a total beverage company globally.”

“The number of product innovations coming out of India has almost doubled over the last three years,” Huang added.

Coca-Cola India has launched nearly 25 new products in the last three years. It has also reduced the time taken to introduce new products from the concept stage to the retail shelves to 12 weeks from 2-3 years with the adoption of the incubation model.

Continuing with its strategy, it is testing products such as the spiced buttermilk fortified with fibre to strengthen its dairy play, a fruit puree product under brand Minute Maid and non-alcoholic malt drink brand Barbican. The Indian team has been closely collaborating with the Shanghai R&D centre to introduce innovations at a swift pace.

“Our innovation model is focused on maximising local innovations by understanding local consumers needs, For this the regional R&D centre at Shanghai is working closely with the India satellite lab. This also helps us to take innovations from India to other markets and vice-versa,” she said.

While the spiced buttermilk product is likely to be launched nationally in the first quarter of next year, the fruit puree product will be launched in select urban markets. The fruit puree, which is being piloted in Kerala, can either be consumed as a beverage or mixed with milk or curd.

In terms of packaging, Huang pointed out that the 250-ml PET bottle for sparkling beverages is an innovation that was first launched in India by the company. “We are next taking it to other emerging markets such as Indonesia and even to developed markets such as Canada,” she said adding that innovations like the “affordable sparkling single serve pack” is in line with the company’s strategy to focus on sustainable packaging.

Published on September 02, 2019
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