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Refreshing fizz

The only Goan company to be taken seriously by multi-nationals, Western Beverages is a competitive player in the soft drink and bottled water industry, finds out SHOMA PATNAIK
Goa’s largest non-alcoholic beverage company, Western Beverages, is refreshingly robust. While other local manufacturers of soft drinks are falling flat under the MNC onslaught, the company is carrying on with remarkable fizz. It’s aerated drink and bottled water ‘Taan’ is third highest in sales within Goa and brand ‘Twist’ is equally successful.
In Taan, the company mainly caters to the home market and parts of south Maharashtra and north Karnataka. But the product range under Twist (comprising tonic water, mixers and soda) are available in other parts of the country too like Bangalore, Mysore, Mumbai, Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. The company, says RS Kamat, chairman and managing director, has an overall market share of 15 per cent and turnover of Rs 10 crore in 2013-14. In the current year it will get upgraded in classification n to medium size from a small scale unit, he adds.
Maximum income at present is from soft drinks followed by bottled water while sale of tonic water and other products (in Twist range) are lesser due to the restricted size of the market. Future plans are to keep growing through expansions and continue chipping away at competitor’s market share as much as possible.
The company is looking to foray into the non-carbonated fruit juice segment where demand is strong and growing at 25 per cent annually. Negotiations are on for a fruit juice plant at Kudal, Goa-Maharashtra border. Side-by-side the search is ongoing for franchisee partners for manufacturing 20 litre jar of aerated water, points out Kamat.
Based in Cuncolim Industrial Estate, Western Beverages is an integrated soft drink manufacturer with all facilities at one place. It has got a research department, a flavouring plant, bottling unit and also makes its own PET bottles. Manufacturing facilities also includes a concentrate plant at MIDC in Andheri, Mumbai. The concentrate plant is located in Mumbai because it uses imported raw material and also exports finished product to countries like Nigeria, etc.
Soft drink ‘Taan’ can easily be sold in more places of neighbouring states, says Albert Zuzarte, director, sales, but the only hindering factor is high freight costs. Competition is intense in the soft drink and bottled water industry with the overwhelming presence of two MNC players, but there is room for smaller, local players too, feels Kamat.
Citing the example of Europe, he says that a number of smaller brands co-exist there along with global giants. In the meantime, there is an advantage to being a local player. The company does not have to spend huge sums on advertising and can focus on improving relations with retailers and beefing up the distribution network. It can also get better in packaging by offer soft drinks and bottled water in every range and according to the demands of the buyers.
In rest of India the soft drink market faces ups and downs in consumption depending on the season. But Goa, according to Kamat, is unique because of relatively moderate fluctuations in the temperate. Sales peak in summer like everywhere else but it also soars in winter due to the festival season and the rush of events and festivals. Moreover, thanks to tourists Goa is a high consumption state and as such sales are steady except for one or two months in monsoons.
In the future, Kamat is confident that the company will continue to grow in line with the industry projections. Success in the industry depends on quality, distribution network and pricing, all the three factors are under control. Moreover, soft drink and bottle water demand is going up by 15 per cent annually and the turnover increase of Western Beverages will be in line with industry growth.

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