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Mecca-Cola introduced to Thailand

Mecca-Cola, a carbonated beverage from France, has been imported into Thailand as a new choice for soft-drink fans.

Published on January 21, 2008

Mecca-Cola World chairman and founder Tawfik Mathlouthi said the company had entered the market last September. At present, Mecca-Cola does not have its own plant in the country and imports the beverage from its Malaysian plant.

"I don't have a special reason to enter this market," he said. "I just want Mecca-Cola to go everywhere. The company has provided Mecca-Cola to 64 countries on five continents."

Mecca-Cola is a carbonated beverage that Muslim people can drink, as the product has a halal label on its packaging.

Mathlouthi said Mecca-Cola began marketing in southern Thailand near the Malaysian border, which was easy for transportation. Suksabai Trading is the beverage's sole distributor in Thailand.

The company has no intention of conducting aggressive marketing campaigns in Thailand or competing with existing rivals, he said. Mecca-Cola simply wants to be a new choice. It is not provided in modern convenience stores. The company now allows agents around the Kingdom to distribute the beverage.

"We did not create this carbonated beverage to rival other manufacturers," he said. "They have their own market, and we have our own market, as well. I don't produce this product only for business purposes, but I want consumers to have the freedom to choose their beverages. I want my company to grow step by step. Thus, I have projected the company will have only a 5-per-cent share in the Thai market in three years."

The company will use Thailand as its base for distributing Mecca-Cola to Cambodia and Vietnam in the future. If there is enough demand, the company may consider establishing its own plant here, he said.

In Thailand, Mecca-Cola is now available only in cans, but the company plans to import 1.2 litre bottles this year.

"If Mecca-Cola is successful in the Thai market, I will consider introducing other beverages, such as fruit juice, tea and coffee in two years," Mathlouthi said.

Mathlouthi launched Mecca-Cola in France in November 2002 as a way of expressing his political standpoint against US policy in the Middle East. Mecca-Cola sold two million bottles in the first 15 days of operation. Last year, the company produced 1.38 million litres.

In five years of operation, Mecca-Cola has expanded into 64 countries, even the US. As far as Mathlouthi is concerned, the brand is successful for two reasons: its philosophy of promoting itself as a "freedom drink", and its charitable donations.

Company policy is to donate 20 per cent of its net profit to children's charity all over the world, half of that to the Palestinian territories, but not in cash, in order to ensure that it is not diverted to terrorist activities, he said.

Mecca-Cola does not spend money on marketing or advertising campaigns, in order to have more for charity.

At present, Mecca-Cola has only a 1.7-per-cent share in the French market, while it enjoys a 25-per-cent share in some Middle East countries. However, the European Union is the brand's best market.

Mathlouthi said the company planned to enter Nigeria this year. After that, he will stop expanding next year or in 2010 to concentrate on product improvement, then restart expansion.

Nalin Viboonchart

The Nation


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