Calcutta, March 8: Coca-Cola has entered into a long-term agreement with the city-based Goodricke India for sourcing tea for its Georgia brand.
Without disclosing the volume and period of the contract, Coca-Cola India’s deputy division president Sanjiv Gupta said the tea to be used for plain and flavoured varieties would be sourced from gardens located in north Bengal and Dooars.
Coke launched Georgia brand of plain and flavoured tea and coffee in Delhi and Calcutta in November last year and has installed 1000 and 500 vending machines respectively in these two cities.
Gupta, who took part in a session on beverage market at the India International Tea Convention, told reporters that test marketing would continue for sometime to ensure a perfect delivery mechanism apart from other quality parameters.
Gupta said the company was also planning to make fresh investment in carbonated soft drink capacity and fruit juice plants in north Bengal.
Encouraged by 39 per cent volume growth in 2002, Coke has decided to invest Rs 750 crore to increase capacity and launch new products. Over Rs 25 crore are being spent on the test-launch of hot beverages, Gupta said.
While bulk of the fresh investment would be made in south India, about Rs 100 crore would be invested in the eastern part of the country for adding new lines, expanding facilities and increasing capacity.
Gupta said 2002 was a particularly good year for the Indian arm of the global soft drink giant as it won the Woodruf Cup from among 22 divisions of the company based on three broad parameters of volume, profitability and quality.
He said the 39 per cent volume growth recorded by Coca-Cola India in 2002 was significant considering the industry grew by 23 per cent nationally whereas in places like West Bengal it grew by 35 per cent.
Speaking about the company’s plans for east India, which was the second most important for the company in terms of sales, Gupta said, “we are looking at a new facility in north Bengal next year, with an investment of Rs 40 crore, but that will depend on volume growth that we get from the ongoing investments.”
He said if in 2003 the plan went well they would look a fruit juice facility in north Bengal that would serve upcountry destinations.
Gupta said Coca-Cola planned to introduce 30 new lines of production in India, mainly at existing facilities.
He said the company hoped to double per capita consumption of soft drinks in India from seven litres to 14 litres. “We generally believe that we can double per capita consumption with affordability, which was reflected in the fact that consumption of 200 ml bottles had registered up to 50 per cent growth in lots of areas.”