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INTERVIEW

“We are hoping to venture into cafés and cloud kitchen segment”
Monday, 27 September, 2021, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Xotik Frujus Pvt. Ltd, an Indian beverage company based out of Mumbai was founded in 2007. The company's flagship product, Jeeru, is an apple juice-based fizzy masala drink crafted to suit India's unique taste buds. With products available across the country and the world, the company has now moved beyond the realms of desi masala drinks with its varied range.

From the inception, till date, the company has had an interesting and unique journey. Jeeru has become synonymous to the brand’s identity and to home flavoured and homemade beverages. Ankita Sehgal, director, Xotik Frujus, tells Ranjana Sharma in an email interview, how it has become a popular Indian beverage choice amongst all age groups across the country, hints at future growth plans and more. Excerpts:

Tell us about the range of beverages produced by your group.
We initially began production with our flagship product Jeeru, an apple juice-based jeera masala drink. Our aim was to introduce a beverage that satisfied and appeals to the Indian taste buds. Jeeru ticks all the boxes attributing to its taste profile. As we widened our horizons we now have the exotic still fruit drinks, tantalising sparkling fruit drinks, carbonated fruit-based drinks, and the crisp premium soda in our product portfolio. Catering to our younger audience, our latest addition to the portfolio is Hammer, the energy drink from the house of Xotik.

Which of the brands are fastest growing?
The pandemic has had a heavy impact on the beverage industry, all of us have taken measures to get on the recovery path. In the jeera masala beverage sector, RimZim and BinduJeera are amongst the fastest growing.

As for Xotik, Jeeru remains our most loved product and is gaining popularity amongst consumers across markets. However, our fruit-based drinks are quickly becoming favourites amongst our consumers. The Xotik fruit-drinks range is available in mixed fruit, green apple, orange, litchi, mango, muskmelon flavours. Our energy drink is also gradually picking up pace in the market especially amongst the younger generation

Describe your drinks, cocktails. How did you get inspiration for these drinks?
Our drinks, right from Jeeru to the punchy soda, are curated to deliver a refreshing feeling and flavour. Our extensive beverage line caters to all age groups. We have tried to formulate new products keeping the Indian masses at the centre of our strategy. Post a research undertaken by my father on the beverage industry, he realised that it was quite unorganised and had immense scope for growth. We focussed on the curation of a desi flavoured drink for the Indian soul and entered the markets with Jeeru. The pleasant aroma and a tangy feeling with the inclusion of spice extracts, and apple juice as its base gives Jeeru its unique taste profile. The unique blend of elements that Jeeru has, has established an instant bond with Indian customers across the globe and has acquired our customers' immediate acceptance.

How has the company fared since inception?
It was founded in 2007 and is currently a major beverage brand in India. Our flagship product Jeeru – an apple juice based fizzy masala drink tailored for India's taste buds – was introduced into the Indian market. We have gone beyond desi masala drinks and are approaching the youthful, urban Indian markets with a wide and diversified product offering.We are proud of being a business committed to serving Indians across the globe. In addition to our hero's - Jeeru and Diet - Jeeru, Xotik has a broad range of drinks including still-fruit drinks, sparkling-fruits drinks, carbonated fruit juice-based drinks, energy drink and crunchy premium soda.

Today, we have expanded our business from general trade to modern trade and it’s been a long journey. We have a wide network of over 850 dealers and excellent vendor relationships in 17 states and UTs around the nation, including railway stations within central, western, north-western and southern networks. We also have a well-established network of distributors. Xotik the brand also serves its products nationally and locally in modern retail chains across the country. Our products are also available in supermarkets like Spencers, HyperCity, Magsons, Heritage, Aberan, Dheeraj Sons, Vijetha, Ratnadeep, Metro Cash n Carry, Booker Wholesale and many more.

We have also established Xotik globally, with its presence in countries such as the United States, UK and Canada. What began as a tiny Mumbai office has become a nationally renowned drink brand today. We are determined to serve India, Indians globally and all consumers looking for beverages with a unique flavour profile with delicious and pocket-friendly drinks as we continue to expand. The long-term objective of the company is to reach the Indian soul wherever it is.

Are consumers inclining towards healthier product choices given the rising number of health-conscious trends and what role do your natural fruit drinks play?
There has been a reasonable rise in consumers seeking healthier product choices. We, as a team, are ensuring to produce and deliver the fruit drinks with ample nutritional contents. There is constant consumer demand for flavourful and delicious fruit drinks and we are determined to cater to the consumer demand. We aim to continue endorsing our fresh fruit pulp-based drinks for consumers seeking healthy fruit drink options. 

Which variant from your product portfolio do you expect will be sold most in all seasons?
It would be Jeeru and our line of fruit-based drinks. Jeeru and the line of fruit drinks are great refreshers. Apart from being consumed directly, our customers like to experiment with new drink recipes and incorporate our products as the base or mixers. Jeeru is an exceptional drink. Its tangy and spicy flavours can be enjoyed throughout the year and make it an all season and loved choice of our consumers.

How are you observing the change in consumer behaviour with respect to the beverage industry?
There is certainly a demand for affordability and the need to offer competitive deals in the market. Consumers are also keen on experimenting and trying new products, keeping in mind their outlook for innovation in all areas of the product – right from the formulation, the taste to their packaging. Our consumers in the urban, semi-urban and rural markets have responded well to our products in these past years. 

How are you ensuring food safety of the products manufactured by your company?
With the onset of pandemic, we have been taking additional precautions to maintain the highest levels of safety and sanitation in the manufacturing process. Our company assures the acquisition of all raw materials from highly qualified vendors that are also suppliers of the biggest businesses in the country. In compliance with industry regulations, this enables us to follow the usual processes. We carry out the cleaning, filling, and packaging process using completely mechanised machinery to minimise human touch. We subsequently manufacture and distribute high-quality packaged finished goods from the raw ingredients.

The company is well known for its slew of products, so how are you positioning it in the market?
Our market positioning has been quite simple and clear. We are a successful homegrown brand, and we are extremely proud of it. We cater to the urban, semi-urban and the rural areas and our audience advocates for locally sourced products. With the ‘Vocal For Local’ initiative gaining momentum, we have currently positioned ourselves in the market as the best Indian beverage brand that caters to Indians across the country and the world. 

What about plans such as expansion, diversification, collaboration and so on?
Currently, we have factories with top of the line, fully automatic machines in several locations across India. We have company owned factories in Daman and Diu as well as West Bengal. Additionally, we have contracted manufacturers in Madhya Pradesh and Sri Lanka for manufacturing our products. 

Along with the beverage business, we are also keen on exploring and establishing a concrete base in the hospitality sector. We have a functional cosy dine-in café in Malad, Mumbai, that offers a variety of dishes and exclusive Xotik mocktail mixes. We are also hoping to expand our businesses by venturing into the cafés and cloud kitchen segment within a year or two.

Apart from these, we hope to continue providing the consumer with products that are safe, hygienic, tasty, and refreshing, all at pocket friendly prices. The Xotik family is focussing their efforts on the goal of enhancing our reach pan-India and make our products accessible to one and all. Our endeavour to serve the Indian soul wherever they are remains intact and we will be continually working to fulfil it.
 
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