India overtakes Germany as Coca-Cola's sixth largest market

India has become the sixth largest market for Coca-Cola by volume sales, overtaking Germany as low price points and wider distribution helped the world's largest beverages maker increase sales in the second-most populous country.

Coca-Cola India now trails the US, Mexico, China, Brazil and Japan after overtaking 13 global markets since 2006 when it was ranked 19th, Coca-Cola has posted on its website. Coca-Cola India now contributes 12% of the company's Asia- Pacific region volume sales.

While a PepsiCo India spokesman on Thursday declined to comment on India's contribution to its global sales, the beverages and snacks maker had last year claimed that India was a top five market for the firm globally. But this is not strictly an apple-to-apple comparison as PepsiCo's numbers include its snacks business, which is a faster growing business than beverages for the firm.

With growth in mature markets like the US and Europe drying up owing to the economic slowdown and consumers turning away from sugary sodas towards healthier drinks such as tea, India is seen as a key growth bastion for both the US firms as soft drink consumption in India is among the lowest. Per capita consumption of Coca-Cola products in India, for example, is just 14 bottles per year, compared to the global average of 94. Coca-Cola sold only 710 million unit cases of beverages in India last year against 5.5 billion unit cases in its home market US where the population is just around one-fourth of India's.

The Atlanta-based firm has targeted India to be a top 5 market by volumes by 2020.

But its sales growth in India has slowed down to single-digits in recent quarters. Coca-Cola's volume growth slowed to 6% during January-March 2014, compared to 8% in the year-ago quarter.

The slowdown is due to a variety of reasons ranging from a slowing economy to a not-so-hot summer season last year. Also, increasingly health-conscious urban consumers have started opting for healthier drinks such as packaged iced teas, flavoured water, juices and localised options such as lemonade and chaas.