Iranian soft drink major eyes Indian market

Wednesday, 22 November 2006, 06:00 Hrs
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New Delhi: Coke and Pepsi may soon have a competitor in India for Iranian soft drink major ZamZam which is promising both better quality and lower prices.

"Looking at the huge customer base in India, we have carried out a survey to gauge customer preferences, attitude, channels of operation and transportation. The response is quite encouraging," said Hossein Abolhassani, marketing and export deputy and member of the board of ZamZam Iran Co.

"We are negotiating with a number of prospective partners. We are confident of fulfilling all regulations of the Indian government and will provide better quality products than the current players in India," Abolhassani told IANS.

Along with two colleagues, Abolhassani is in New Delhi to participate in the India International Trade Fair (IITF), displaying the ZamZam product range that includes orange, lemonade and cola (regular or diet) flavours.

"Though I have visited India earlier, we are participating in the IITF for the first time and the exposure is good. It's a good interaction point with probable partners," he said.

He said his company expected to enter the market by end of 2007.

According to him, with scores of varieties and capability to roll out its products at cheaper rates, the Iranian firm will give a tough competition to established players like Pepsi and Coke in India.

"Iranian regulatory standards are more stringent than those of FDA (Food and Drug Administration - the US agency responsible for regulating food, drug and dietary products) and we are ready to adhere to any quality control parameters the Indian government wants," he claimed.

Once in the market, a 330-ml aluminum can of ZamZam will cost Indian consumers only 11.

"In India we can get cheap labour, indigenous machines, and good transport facilities. All this will help us to keep the price band low. We are sure Indian consumers will like the products," Abolhassani said.

"Once we get a good partner and government clearance, we will give the license to our Indian partner. A team of quality control officials will train people here. The product proportion will be decided by our experts before the bottling begins," he added.

ZamZam occupies nearly 40 percent of the market in Iran, rolling out three billion bottles of soft drinks ranging between 250-ml and three-litre a year, according to Abolhassani.

It also operates in several countries like Malaysia, Afghanistan, Turkey, Germany, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

"Since 1994 we have been operating in foreign lands. Targeting India is not a bad idea. Besides India, we are also looking at Iraq, Lebanon, South Africa and Sudan," he added.

Source: IANS
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