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Shape shifters: Changing packaging in Indian soft drinks

12 March 2014

The soft drinks packaging offering in India has seen a remarkable change lately, from the ordinary multi-serve presentations found through all soft drinks categories to  smaller ‘on the go’ packs, and even larger ‘family packs’. As unpackaged volumes decrease and legitimate packaging becomes more affordable and more available, Canadean analyses the effects this has had on consumption.

India Plastic Bottle

Canadean’s latest packaged water market analysis shows that inexpensive LDPE sachets have been essential to the packaged water category, more than tripling its volumes over the past five years. These packs are spreading to different geographical areas, further driving growth. 25cl LDPE sachets have gone from holding around a third as much as the 100cl PET bottle in 2008, to surpassing it in 2012.

Smaller sizes that facilitate ‘on the go’ water consumption are a driving force. Moving away from the classic 100cl PET*, packaged volumes have seen a huge rise in 25cl and 2,000cl offerings as commercial sales of packaged water grow at a blistering speed. The 50cl PET bottle has also gained as a result of price increases on 100cl PET.

India’s tropical summer favours ‘on the go’ consumption and most still drinks are sold in portion packs or unpackaged on the street due to lack of penetration into the key small kiosks on sideroads. The interesting trend is however, within the growing packaged sector; family packs are gaining share, indicating higher retail sales. Indeed, as filling PET bottles now requires lower investment and is more economical than cartons, family packs are getting more popular.

The demand for small packaged juices and nectars is growing but freshly prepared products are still dominating the sector in India. The packaging focus for carbonates has shifted from refillable glass bottles to non-refillable PET bottles. This has been the case for both single-serve bottles but particularly for large family packs. In 2012, 250cl and 25cl PET bottles were introduced to the market. PepsiCo also trialled a 300cl pack. Smaller presentations still reign, but the growth of these multi-serve offerings is grabbing attention.

Producers are also now seeing the benefits of investing in their packaging supply, with companies opening up PET packaging lines in the carbonates category, and investing in sturdier HDPE water cooler bottles and large portion bottles used in homes and offices. The latter boasts a longer recycling life and are thus a more economical long-term choice.

Innovation in packaging, at both ends of the spectrum, is helping drive soft drinks growth. With further diversification inevitable, beverage packing within the Indian market warrants a close eye.



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