Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages today launched Coke's sugar-free drink 'Coca-Cola Zero'.
The launch in New Delhi means Coca-Cola Zero is now available in all the top six markets of the US-based Coca-Cola Company, the others being the US, Mexico, China, Brazil and Japan.
''As we move towards the halfway mark of the decade, it is important that we add new offerings to our portfolio even as we nurture the existing brands,'' Coca-Cola India and Southwest Asia President Venkatesh Kini told reporters.
The company sells a variety of carbonated and non-carbonated drinks in India, including Coca-Cola, Thums Up, Sprite, Maaza and Minute Maid.
''Post 5 October Coca-Cola Zero will be available across the top 100 towns in India in more than 1.8 lakh outlets, which includes traditional and modern trade,'' the company said.
Initially, the new product will be available in modern retail outlets, starting with the 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 the prices of Rs10 glass bottles, but to cover 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 to $5 billion investment in India till 2020. ''We are happy to say that we are on track for that,'' he said.
Asked about the Varanasi bottling plant, Kini said, ''We remain committed to 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 announced it would shelve its plan to expand its bottling plant at Varanasi, citing ''inordinate delay'' in receiving clearance for the project from the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA).