INDUSTRY VOICES: INDIAN BEVERAGE FILLING INSIGHTS

‘Technology transfer cost’ hinders aseptic filling uptake in India

By Ben BOUCKLEY contact

- Last updated on GMT

A growing Indian middle class is turning away from local soft drinks and spending more on well-known brands to ensure product quality, according to Mangal Dev Bariwal
A growing Indian middle class is turning away from local soft drinks and spending more on well-known brands to ensure product quality, according to Mangal Dev Bariwal

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An experienced engineering project manager who has completed projects for the likes of PepsiCo and Coca-Cola tells us that technology transfer costs are to blame for slow Indian uptake of aseptic filling.

Mangal Dev Bariwal’s 16-year career includes stints in India, Africa, Europe, Sri Lanka Bangladesh and China – completing projects for the likes of Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, Unilever and P&G; he now works for Suzhou Brightech and MyDrink Beverages.

“Aseptic filling generally is not particularly big in India – this market is still very new in India, and in beverages there are only one or two lines,”​ he told BeverageDaily.com.

Bariwal agrees that brands could benefit from introducing aseptic technology to improve taste profile and nutritive value of drinks.

“I agree with you but the investment in technology is not available in India. It’s available in Europe via the big companies – Krones, KHS, Tetra Laval,” ​he said.

“These companies own these technologies but the technology transfer is very costly right now. All these companies are based either in Switzerland, Italy or Germany and the duty factor is also very high,”​ Bariwal added.

“This is why people are going for the local solution, which is non-aseptic lines.”

“Normally MNCs operating in the beverage industry like Pepsi, Coca-Cola, SAB Miller – these companies have a sufficient infrastructure and technology, technology partners – they want to build these markets, so they have that kind of capacity, and aseptic lines for instance.

“But locally in India, people don’t own this technology, so it has to be imported either from Europe or from Latin America.”

Nonetheless, Bariwal said that India’s new government led by PM Narendra Modi is showing some aggression, in terms of developing and improving the lifestyle of Indian people by giving them technology to help them become entrepreneurs.

“So hopefully in coming years, there will be a few entrepreneurs who opt for aseptic filling, which is good because it brings freshness, retains the nutritive value – but right now people rely on hot fill because it’s simpler, the machinery and packaging costs less,”​ he said.

Discussing other machine trends, Bariwal said PET, Tetra Pak and flexible pouches with caps are all stealing share from glass –with low output, energy efficient, small footprint flexible systems carving out a niche market in juices and local ‘appetising’ drinks.

The Indian public prefers smaller portion sizes, of 200-250ml, say, in PET, he adds, rather than the 300ml or 500ml sizes popular in Africa, for instance, with larger formats popular during festival seasons or for family parties.

Coca-Cola dominates the soft drinks market, Bariwal added, as he warned that nascent local brands needed real novelty to establish consumer preference, in a market where “people care less nowadays about price and more about quality”.

“Even in juice they don’t go for the local drink, they always prefer the branded drink in the market,” ​he added.

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