Coca-Cola sees sales fizz in non-carbonated drinks (Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines – Coca-Cola Co. said it sees a huge potential for its still beverages products in the Philippines and expects these brands to dominate the market the way its carbonated drinks have been doing locally.

Coca-Cola group president for Asia Pacific Atul Singh told The STAR the global beverage giant is keeping its eyes open for potential acquisitions that would further beef up its still beverage product line in the country.

Still beverages refer to juice, teas and sports drinks which have not been carbonated.

Likewise, Singh said the firm is also studying the development of new brands that will cater specifically to the Philippine market.

“In the Philippines, there are a lot of opportunities because the country’s economy has been growing. There are opportunities across the board for all our products because as consumers develop their taste and as the economy improves, consumers tend to want more choices,” Singh said.

“As urbanization happens, as people get more affluent, they would like to spend in beverages beyond just water. They want to try different things during different day parts,” he added.

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At present, Singh said Coca-Cola competes in seven different beverage categories in the Philippines which are carbonated drinks or sparkling beverages, packaged water, ready to drink juices, powdered juices, ready to drink teas, powdered teas, and sports drink.

He said Coca-Cola’s position in the different categories varies but when it comes to total non-alcoholic beverages, the group is the leader in the market.

Sparkling drinks such as Coke, Sprite, Royal, Sparkle and Pop Cola are currently the major revenue generators for the group in the Philippines.

Singh, however, said there has been rapid growth across different beverage categories in recent years.

“Water is growing and different categories are growing. What we found out is that the Philippines will be no different to other markets in Asia where over time, consumers would want choices. And we’ve seen that in other markets where different categories start growing. So we believe that in the future, there is an opportunity to grow not only the sparkling business but as well as the still beverage business,” he said.

Singh admitted that competition in the beverage business has intensified locally in recent years but said the Coca-Cola group remains undeterred given its century-old relationship with the Filipino consumers.

“We enjoy competition but we compete aggressively. With strong and good competition, industry grows because we invest and our competitors invest also so the consumer benefits. So competition is good for consumers and it’s good for the economy. At the same time, it helps us innovate, it helps us stay on our toes, and it helps us bring new products to market,” Singh said.

“So if the timing is right, we will come up with new products. Currently, we are in seven categories and there is a lot of opportunity in those categories so before launching new products it is always better to see how to maximize the existing. If we see a need, we will bring a new product. The same goes for acquisitions, we always remain open,” he added.

Coco-Cola has already committed to invest $1.2 billion up to 2020 to expand its facilities and bolster distribution and operations in the country.