It has captured 90% of the market worth Tk700 crore
In the early nineties, almost all children could be seen with a pack of red and white Shezan mango juice in their hands.
Their popularity is so high that local companies started entering the market.
“We began marketing fruit drinks in 1992 and we are the pioneers of the industry and all related technology. Consumers did not want to believe that it was possible to bottle juice. The shopkeepers did not want to keep it either,” said Kamruzzaman Kamal, director (marketing) of Pran-RFL Group.
According to companies, fruit drinks produced in Bangladesh by local companies in the 1990s struggled a lot to make it popular in the country.
“Currently the fruit drinks market is one of the established markets in the country. After meeting the national demand, we export it in overseas markets,” said the Pran official. They exported juice worth $80 million in 2019.
Today the homegrown fruit drinks and juice market is a well established, ever growing market worth near Tk800-Tk1,000 crore, with at least eight companies leading the market.
While there are alot of flavours available such as mango, pineapple, guava, apple, orange, strawberry and lemon, the most popular market is still mango juice and the flavor is worth more than Tk700 crore, nearly 90% of the total market.
Pran, Akij, Acme, Transcom, Globe, and Abul Khair group are all competing for a slice of the pie.
According to the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI), most of the local companies produce fruit drinks along with juices, with only Pran producing a juice brand named Latina.
Fruit drinks and juice are categorized based on the use of fruit pulps. Fruit juices contain 88% fruit pulp whereas fruit drinks contain 10% pulp and natural ingredients, as new standards were set for the two beverage varieties in 2012, said the BSTI.
After fulfilling domestic demands, a number of companies export fruit drinks abroad to India and some Southeast Asian countries, said insiders.
Although a number of companies produce fruit drinks, imported drinks from Malaysia, Thailand, Korea and India are also available, but imported fruit drinks remain a very niche market even today.
How it works
Officials of the companies said that they collect ripe mangoes directly from farmers, or the larger mango wholesale markets in the northern region of the country.
They also collect other fruits from the various parts of the country where they are produced in abundance.
The mangoes and other fruits are then picked and washed in hot water by automatic machine to make pulps. The pulp is mixed with water, sugar and beta carotene to make the fruit drinks and marketed in glass and plastic bottles or tetra packs to reach the hands of consumers.
Ali Muhammad Jakaria, senior executive officer, brand and business development of Acme Consumers Products Ltd, said that the juice market is growing and becoming more competitive. Many companies are now in the lead.
"However, our hope is that there are no foreign products in the retail market as the market is entirely controlled by domestic products," he beamed.
But the fruit drinks are also strife with allegations of chemical preservatives with the actual fruit pulps.
There are a number of cases on lab testing of juice which has found that mango drinks produced by many local companies contain only 5% mango pulp on average, which is less than half of what is required in such drinks, in line with BSTI.
Asked about this, the companies said that there were some such problems before but not anymore.
Companies are now very careful in maintaining the standard and quality, they added.
Monotosh Kumar Das, assistant director of BSTI, said that the companies are adhering to the standards set by BSTI in making fruit drinks.
“All the fruit drinks of the market use fruit pulp 10% or above and the only juice, Latina, also has the required amount of fruit pulp. We conduct regular operations and take action whenever we find any irregularities,” he added.