A couple of months ago Delta Beverages the purveyors of the Coca-Cola and Fanta branches in Zimbabwe announced that they had captured back their market leader position in the soda drinks market from Varun Investments. Varun are the upstarts who operate the also now very popular Pepsi, Mirinda and Mountain Dew. The war is far from over as there is another player in the market as Innscor seems to have suddenly started pushing their Fizi drinks hard. They are now apparent price wars in the market just as we enter summer.

Delta has always been the traditional leading force in the soda drinks market. Most elders call soda drinks “koko” (Coke) for a reason. For years Delta were the unapparelled champion with their Coke, Sparleta and Fanta flavours dominating the market. They solidified this lead when they merged with Schweppes which also gave them the lion’s share in the dilutable drinks market. But as always happens they became somewhat too comfortable with this fact.

Then along came Varun Investments the Indian-backed drinks maker who came armed with rights to the hitherto underutilized Pepsi brand. At first, people, used to the taste of Coke sneered at Pepsi but given the price differences between Pepsi and Coke at the same time a lot of people made the switch. Delta also curtailed its operations during the early days of Varun’s coming to Zimbabwe when had issues with foreign currency shortages. This allowed Varun to grow and seize the soda market from Delta who only got it back this year. Delta’s grip is not firmly on the crown, however.

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There is another player who seems determined to seize a share of the soda drinks market share. Innscor Africa, the formidable force behind many household brands such as Pro Brands seems to have suddenly remembered they own the Fizi drink brand. There are signs that production has been ramped up. The drink was rarely seen in the leading informal sector but now we have seen stacks upon stacks of both 2 litre and 500ml bottles in various shops and in pushcarts too.

The price fight is on too:

  • 2-litre Fizi drinks of various flavours including Cola, Lemon and Orange retail for US$1 in most tuckshops while the six pack for US$5
  • The 500 ml bottle is retailing for Dollar-for-four or $200 ZWL. That is US$0.25 for those who do not understand informal sector lingo. The six-pack is selling for US$1.50 i.e. US$1 and $400 ZWL.
  • Varun’s Pepsi matches Fizi’s prices too with 2-litre bottles of Mountain Dew, Pepsi Cola and Mirinda retailing for US$1 and the six-packs going for US$5.
  • Things are a little different with the 500 ml which is also selling for $200 ZWL by the way. Official Pepsi carts vendors are selling this for US$0.50 per 500ml bottle. Pepsi also does not have 500 ml six-packs, instead, they sell their drinks in shrink-wrapped packs of 24. Currently, the 24-drink pack sells for between US$5-US$6.50.
  • Confusingly Varun also sells 1-litre plastic bottles of Pepsi, Mirinda and Mountain Dew which retail for US$0.50 although this will cost you US$0.70 if you buy from vendors in town.
  • In comparison, Delta’s 300 ml drinks are retailing for $200 ZWL they may be smaller than Innscor and Fizi’s drinks but they are popular with customers who are willing to overlook this. There has been instances when Delta’s drinks have been sold for $190 ZWL as part of promotions.
  • Delta’s 2-litres retail for US$1.70 while the six-pack has drinks as low as US$1.50 per bottle.

NB All three companies are also duking it out in the dilutable drinks arena.

Delta have their famous Mazoe brand. Innscor owns the famous Barley House drinks which are under the banner of Pro Brands. Varun has their nascent Soul Sip drinks. Mozoe is selling for US$3 for the 2-litre bottles while Barley House is selling for US$2. Soul Sip is the cheapest with some retailers selling it for US$1.50 although most sellers will demand $2. It is going to be an interesting summer.