RAYONG: Pepsi-Cola (Thai) Trading faces a brisk challenge to recapture its leading position in the carbonated soft drink market here, given the difficulties it is facing in reaching out to conventional shops.
Jagrut Kotecha, general manager for the beverage business, said Pepsi plans to become the market leader again once the company reaches full production at its Rayong plant.
Pepsi eager to reclaim its soda crown Mr Kotecha, left, and Songyos Ruengsakullrach, operations manager for the beverage business, at Pepsi's Open House event. The factory in Rayong's Amata City Industrial Estate completed construction ahead of schedule and will commence full operations in January 2014. SOMCHAI POOMLARD
The company invested roughly 5 billion baht for the beverage manufacturing facility, the largest in Pepsi's global family.
Thai Beverage Plc, the manufacturer of "est'' carbonated soft drink, recently claimed it is the second-largest producer in Thailand after Coke. Est is marketed by Sermsuk, which ended its partnership with Pepsi last year.
Pepsi has had a 40% share of the modern trade market since April.
But the largest market, the traditional segment which includes restaurants, remains a major challenge for Pepsi, he said.
Pepsi has accessed 120,000 restaurants countrywide. Before breaking up with Sermsuk, it had 167,000 restaurants as distributors.
"We expect to be back where we stood earlier very soon,'' he said.
The challenge for Pepsi is to rebuild its capacity both in production and distribution, as he believes the brand remains strong with Thai consumers, said Mr Kotecha.
Pepsi's new plant produces only PET bottles and canned soft drinks, not glass bottles, citing the global trend of beverage producers shifting to PET due to the cheaper cost.
``We believe we can boost the awareness among consumers to drink carbonated soft drink in PET and canned bottles,'' he said.
Chairman Surakiart Sathirathai said its plant in Amata City Industrial Estate, Rayong, is scheduled to be fully operational when the eighth production line cranks up next January.
With its existing seven production lines, Pepsi can produce 600-800 PET bottles a minute of carbonated soft drinks and 1,000 cans a minute.
Pepsi will combine its beverage and snack options for its new marketing campaign including Lay's, Doritos and Sunbites.
The company invested 2.4 billion baht to build a second snack plant in Ayutthaya's Rojana Industrial Park with annual production capacity of 22,000 tonnes. The first plant is located in Lamphun province.
"We expect this strategy will strengthen our position and spur sales in both beverage and snacks markets,'' said Mr Surakiart.
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- Writer: Nalin Viboonchart