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Coca-Cola launches Coke Zero

The sugar-free soft drink will be available in 100 cities from October 5

BS Reporter  |  New Delhi 

Venkatesh Kini, president, India & South West Asia, Coca-Cola taking a selfie with film actor Farhan Akhtar at the launch of Coca-Cola Zero in New Delhi

Coca-Cola on Friday expanded its product portfolio in India with the launch of sugar-free soft drink Coca-Cola Zero. It is being sold exclusively on for two weeks. The product got 1,700 online bookings in four hours on Friday.

The brand is now available in all the top six markets of the company, the others being the US, Mexico, China, Brazil and Japan.

Venkatesh Kini, president, Coca-Cola India and South West Asia, said, "As we move towards the halfway mark of the decade, it is important we add offerings to our portfolio even as we nurture the existing brands.” After October 5, Coca-Cola Zero will be available across the top 100 towns in India in 180,000 outlets.

Initially, the new product will be available in modern retail outlets, starting with Reliance Retail chain. Besides, it would be first made available to various partners like low cost carrier IndiGo, quick service restaurant chain Subway and INOX Leisure.

When asked the impact of the excise duty hike on the company, Kini said: "...Excise duty hike was a disappointment. We have not increased prices of Rs 10 glass bottles, but to cover up the cost, prices on some PET bottles have been increased by 4-10 per cent. The process has been on for 3-4 months".

He added that the company remains committed towards the $ 5 billion investment in India till 2020. "We are happy to say that we are on track for that (investment)," he added.

Kini said the company is committed towards expanding its bottling facility in Uttar Pradesh. : "We remain committed towards the state. We have 11 plants in Uttar Pradesh and we are working with the UP government to locate a new location for the bottling unit". Last month, Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages, had said it would shelve the plan to expand its bottling plant at Varanasi citing "inordinate delay" in receiving clearance for the project from Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA).

In 2012, the Atlanta-based beverages giant, along with its partners, had announced to more than double investments in India to $ 5 billion (about Rs 28,000 crore) by 2020.

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First Published: Sat, September 20 2014. 00:41 IST