Bisleri back in carbonated soft drinks after 22-year wait

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Energy drink, Soft drink

Bisleri chairman Ramesh Chauhan
Bisleri chairman Ramesh Chauhan
Best known for its bottled water, Bisleri has made a return to the carbonated soft drinks market 22 years after it sold its Thums Up, Limca, Gold Spot and Mazza brands to Coca-Cola.

The company claims its new product, a non-caffeinated energy drink under the brand name Bisleri Urzza, is the first of its kind to be available in PET bottles in India. It will have rolled out across the country by mid-September and will be available in 250ml cans and 300ml PET bottles priced at Rs50 (US$0.82). It is currently available in selected markets.

Back in the fizz

Ramesh Chauhan, Parle Bisleri’s chairman, said a return to carbonated drinks has been a long time coming. 

We are very excited to re-enter the category which we exited 22 years ago. Urzza is our dream project. We backed it with years of research to offer our consumers a refreshing beverage​,” he said in a statement.

The new energy drink, which will target the 10-25-year-old age group, will compete in India against Red Bull and other growing energy drink brands. 

It took us five years to develop this unique drink whose taste is pleasant. After exiting the soft drink business, I have been thinking how to come out with some unique drink other than water​,” Chauhan said at the launch. 

With a lot of research and external help we could finalise on a drink that has a mysterious taste which others cannot copy. And we named it Urzza [meaning power]​.”

New segment for India

With the launch of Urzza, Chauhan said the company has set out to “create a completely new segment​” by combining the aspects of a carbonated soft drink and an energy drink. 

We are very optimistic about significantly exploding the energy drink segment in the country, as consumers today are looking for different choices​.

Urzza will be the first energy drink available in PET bottles to aid individual consumption. We are looking forward to selling 10m cases [of 24 cans] in the next 12 months, contributing 10% of the company’s sales​.”

The new product will ride on the back of Bisleri’s distribution strength—the water brand is currently available at 500,000 outlets. The new product roll-out is planned for major metros, mini-metros, towns and rural markets. 

The company currently leads the mineral water category in India with a 60% market share, and has seen sales grow year on year at the rate of 26%. It has invested Rs200cr (US$32.8m) in the development and launch of Urzza, and Chauhan’s sales projections dwarf the 2m cases of energy drinks currently sold each year in India.

Bisleri was founded in 1965 by Italian entrepreneur Felice Bisleri, who was the first to bring bottled water to India. Four years later, Parle bought the brand and has since turned the “Bisleri” name into a widely used synonym among Indians for bottled water.

Related topics: Business, South Asia, Asian tastes, Beverages

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