Juicy Business

By Swarnendu Biswas

The evolving juice market in India seems juicy enough for new entrepreneurs. India’s love for juices is old enough, which is evident from the abundance of juice stalls across the country, most of which also serve shakes. But in the recent years, this market for fruit juices is gaining further momentum due to various socio-economic factors.

 The reasons for Indians’ growing propensity to drink juices are many but most important among them are the rising disposable incomes among select but sizeable pockets of urban India during the last decade-and-a-half, growing wave of health consciousness in urban India during the recent years, and also perhaps due to the availability of a great many varieties of juices in the Indian market during the recent years.

Juice in the Market

According to Euromonitor International’s report titled ‘Juice in India’, which was published in April 2017, the increasing numbers of health-conscious consumers in India, especially in the country’s urban areas, who are more focused on functionality and nutrition in their beverages rather than just their thirst quenching properties and convenience, drove the positive sales growth seen in juice during 2016.

No wonder, the Indian juice industry was pegged at 3.5 billion USD in 2012 and it was estimated to attain a huge figure of 21.14 billion USD by 2018. Moreover, the fact that India’s present per capita fruit juice-based beverage consumption is negligible as compared to the developed countries of the west makes India’s juice market brimming with huge potential. It is heartening to see that juices are slowly gaining presence in the upper middle class breakfast tables of urban India.

At the same time, the carbonated beverages segment in India has been experiencing a decline in sales during the recent years, while juices and fruit-based drinks are gaining consumer acceptance in the Indian market.

Even giants in the carbonated beverages segment like Coca-Cola and Pepsi have significant presence in India's packaged fruit juices segment. If Coca-Cola India has Maaza and Minute Maid in its portfolio, the PepsiCo India has its Slice and Tropicana.

 Coca-Cola India had 25.5 percent share of the retail juice sales in India by value during 2015 whereas PepsiCo India had 25.2 percent share of the retail juice sales in India by value during the same year. ITC Ltd through its brand B Natural, is endeavouring to garner 18-20 percent of India’s evolving juice market. It aims to do so by focusing on regional flavours and offering premium versions of juices floating in the Indian market. Parle Agro and Dabur are other important players in the India’s packaged juice segment.

In the recent past, ITC's Foods Division announced the launch of a healthy offering from its B Natural range of fruit beverages — B Natural 100% Pomegranate Juice. Unlike most other packaged fruit juices available in the market that are made from ‘fruit concentrates', B Natural 100% Pomegranate Juice is made directly from the pulp of 25 hand-picked pomegranate fruits (in each pack), and has no added sugar, colour, preservative or flavour. 

Healthy Bars

However, more than 75 percent market share of the juice business in India is accounted by the unorganised sector. But the organised segment of India’s juice business is also gaining currency. The shift in consumer preference from carbonated to non-carbonated beverages is being reflected in the growing number of juice bars in the country. The juice bars are the sleeker and costlier versions of your good old juice stalls which one finds here, there and everywhere in urban India. 

In this regard, one must mention the success story of Mumbai-based HAS Juices & More, which has sold 14.5 million juices since its inception in 2007, through its juice bars. Their juice portfolio is demarcated into various sections like Classic Juices, Kidz Spl. Juices, Exotic Berries among others. 

The chain serves orange-based juices, pineapple-based juices, watermelon-based juices, kiwi-based juices, vegetable-based juices among its impressive repertoire of healthy juices. They are complemented by some wonderful sandwiches on the menu, which include Exotic Chipotle Sandwich, Mint Pasto Sandwich, Tandoori Paneer Sandwich, Cheese Chilli Open Sandwich, Pav-Bhaji Sandwich among others. Salads and chaats are also highlights of the menu of  HAS Juices & More. Since its inception in 2007, HAS Juices & More now has 15 outlets within the ambit of its brand, with presence in Mumbai, Pune, Vadodara and Bangalore. Two outlets of HAS Juice & More in Mumbai are upcoming. Out of these 15 outlets, 11 are owned and 4 are franchised.

The retail giant Boost Juice also made its market presence in India in late 2011, under the name of Joost Juice Bars. As there is a renowned drink by the name of Boost in the Indian market, the company decided to change its brand name to Joost Juice Bars for tapping the Indian market.  The freshly squeezed juices of Joost Juice Bars are not loaded with any added sugar and their fruity crushes are 99 percent fat free and dairy free. Other highlights of their menu include the low fat smoothies; they are 98 percent fat free smoothies made with fresh fruit and frozen yoghurt.

Here it deserves a mention that Boost Juice is the brainchild of the visionary Australian entrepreneur Janine Allis.  The first store of Boost Juice opened in 2000, in Adelaide, Austalia. Today Boost Juice brand is spread across 500 stores, in 13 countries. The brand’s winning combination of fresh fruit, blended and squeezed into delicious smoothies and juices, has been a remarkable success story.

Even Kolkata, which is comparatively less trendy than Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore as far as evolution in the food service business goes, and where people on an average are quite conservative with prices, has come up with its own juice bar chain. Kolkata-based The Yellow Straw, which was started by two entrepreneurs, Vikram Khinwasara and Piyush Kankaria, claims to be the first juice bar chain of the City of Joy.  The Yellow Straw also claims to have no infusion of preservatives and concentrates in their juices. Along with fusion juices, here you can have healthy sandwiches, sumptuous pizzas and delicious shakes to satiate your appetite. The prices of the juices at the chain's outlets are also quite reasonable.  Sundaes, fruit salads, green tea and hot coffee are among the other facets of the menu of The Yellow Straw.

The Cost Factor

There are many more players operating in the niche segment of juice bars, which reflects the growth in the popularity of juices in urban India. The market for juice bars shows lots of promise in an increasingly health conscious urban India.

However, one aspect that the juice bars operating in India should be careful about is the price. If the price of a glass of juice goes beyond Rs.150, it may not be economically viable for the majority of our consumers, and in that case the concerned juice bars serving such juices will have to confine their market among elite or upper middle class sections of the Indian society, who of course, have lots of other costly beverage options in five-star and four-star hotels within their finance’s access. There is no denying the fact that middle class and lower middle class sections of our country comprise a more captive market as compared to upper class niches, as the former has less pricey options to explore upon.

Juice Bars also need to make their offerings more affordable to tap the huge market for juices in a sleek and hygienic environment, across tier-II and tier-III cities of urban India, and also for exploring the huge but yet much less untapped rural Indian market.

Of course, the logistics, establishment and ingredients’ cost of these sleek juice bars would not make it feasible for them to offer a glass of their juice at Rs.20; but to make their juices attain some mass appeal, the juice bars operating in India could also focus more on seasonal fruits and vegetables as their ingredients, or on regional flavours. Another option for juice bars in India to enhance their market share could be through focusing on affordable fruits. At the same time, they could cut down on their use of exotic fruits to make them less pricey.

In this regard, the endeavour of Hyderbad-based CaneXpress, which is a chain of juice bars focusing on affordable sugarcane juice, is a savvy option. CaneXpress is  part of Triumph Foods Pvt Ltd. Sugarcane juice is extremely sought after by Indians but it is mostly served in unhygienic conditions, by unorganised players. The inherent market need for having sugarcane juice in a cool and hygienic environment is being catered to by CaneXpress,  in an affordable way.  According to the CaneXpress’s  website, its sugar cane juice is prepared from the finest variety of sugarcane, procured from the best growing fertile farm lands in proximity to the city of Hyderabad, and directly from farmers, thereby retaining its fresh native taste.

CaneXpress does not only serve sugarcane juice. A range of fresh fruit juices, milk shakes and sandwiches are also other highlights of its menu.

All its four juice bars are located in Hyderabad at present.

More such praiseworthy innovative endeavours are needed in the realm of juice bars to give them more mass-based appeal across the country. For example, what about a juice bar chain specialising in chilled jackfruit juice across Kerala? 

Infrastructure and Innovation

One of the ways of making juice bars extend their market to the masses lies in the supply side, where the government needs to take the required initiative. Due to paucity of cold storage facilities and refrigerated transport, we waste millions of dollars worth of fruits and vegetables every year. If these wastages  can be prevented to great extent by bolstering our cold chain and transportation  infrastructure, the fruit prices in India are likely to become more affordable, which in turn could be reflected in the relatively more affordable juice offerings of the juice bars. 

Continual innovation in their juices is another option for juice bars to enhance their market share. Infusion of fresh fruit juices to fizzy drinks to create delectable beverages is an affordable option for juice bars to explore upon. To Parle Agro goes the credit of launching Appy Fizz—the country’s first fruit-based fizzy drink, in 2005, and it recently came up with the launch of Frooti Fiz, a fizzy version of Frooti. This segment presently shows lots of promise.

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