Lahori Zeera’s spiced soft drinks ‘resonate with the Indian taste palette’5 Oct 2023
Indian soda brand Lahori Zeera is on a mission to become the largest non-cola drinks brand in the country with its fruit-based soda drinks, available in flavours such as tamarind, lemon, and black pepper. “The ethnic beverages market in India is underserved,” it says.
Its range of drinks come in fruit flavours such as mango & lime, lemon, and tamarind, and they are also lightly spiced, imparting “eternally Indian flavours”, it says. The lemon-flavoured soda, for instance, also contains black salt, cumin seed, black pepper, and ginger powder.
Such flavour combinations are not unknown in India; for instance, soda and snack manufacturer Haldiram’s range of soft drinks includes flavours such as rose; vetiver grass; green mango & cane sugar; and blackberry & chaat masala spices.
However, Lahori Zeera makes such regional flavours a core part of its branding: its products are “by Indians, for Indians, with Indian flavours”, it says. Nikhil Doda, co-founder and chief operating officer (COO) of the brand, which is manufactured by Archian Foods, says he is on a mission to build the largest non-cola beverage brand in India.
The soda company recently raised funds to help it on this mission. In January last year, it secured $15 million in Series A funding from Verlinvest, a Belgian investor in exchange for an undisclosed minority stake. Verlinvest’s portfolio includes oat milk brand Oatly, coconut water Vita Coco, and confectionery brand Tony’s Chocolonely.
Speaking at the time, Saurabh Munjal, co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Lahori Zeera, said: "We want to give Indian consumers beverage options that resonate with their taste palette. We know that the ethnic beverages market in India is underserved, and we have the vision to become a prominent force in this space."
Shagun Tiwary Shah, an investor at Verlinvest, said the company stood out among other Indian beverage brands thanks to its “taste, product innovation, and customer pull”.
Appealing in India and beyond: Authentic flavours ‘know no borders’
Commenting on why regional flavours resonate so strongly in India and beyond, Nikhil Doda made a comparison to desi-pan, a traditional treat made from Betel nuts and leaves.
“Ever wondered why our desi-pan resonates with Indians the most?” he asked. “It's because authenticity, wrapped in tradition and mixed with nostalgia, knows no borders. […] Remember when turmeric lattes started trending in hipster cafes? And yoga, which has become a worldwide phenomenon? Or the evergreen beats of Bollywood that set global dance floors on fire?
“These aren't just mere fads from the East, but testament to the fact that authentic experiences, ones grounded in cultural roots, always resonate. It's heartening to see 'desi' elements find their rightful place on the global stage.”
Trends in the Indian soft drink market
Lahori Zeera’s drinks are sweetened with sugar. However, according to market research company Mintel, sugar reduction is of growing importance to many Indian consumers for health reasons.
In a report on global soft drink trends, Amrin Walji, senior innovation analyst at Mintel, said that sugar content has become an important consideration to carbonated soft drink users in Asia.
“In India, as many as 42% of consumers who drink carbonated soft drinks are concerned about the sugar content of packaged non-alcoholic drinks, illustrating how frequency of usage may be constrained by sugar concerns.
“However, there is also an understanding that carbonated soft drinks are a taste-led sector, with a degree of indulgence,” Walji added. “Therefore, the extent to which consumers expect carbonated soft drink to be sugar-free is generally lower, compared with expectations of other soft drink categories.
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