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Vodka for Russians, Feni for Indians?

November 21, 2006 03:55 IST

Wine for French, Vodka for Russian and Feni for Indian -- is a new business plan that the Indian drinks major UB group has drawn at its board room now.

The Rs 6,000 crore group, after creating strong marks in beer, spirits and wine in the domestic as well as overseas markets, is entering another new segment -- Goa's traditional drink Feni with a new theme in the promotion plan -- "Feni an Indian liquor".

The group is planning to make a foray in this hitherto unorganised sector by establishing a greenfield still (distilleries dedicated to cashew and coconut Feni) in Goa and to promote the product all across the country. Feni is at present a purely regional product predominantly made and sold in Goa.

However, UB wants to market the product all across the country as a national brand with an objective to make this a drink of Indian origin in the international arena too.

Alok Gupta, senior vice president (marketing) of UB group Spirits Division, said that the proposal to enter the Feni market has been there in its pipeline for sometime now.

"Since the country does not have any single drink with a national identity, we thought this product could be promoted in a national perspective just by enhancing the brand acceptance and creating a new culture in the entire markets."

The company is currently working on some novel ways of marketing the product with mainly the young population as the target customer group, he added. The company's plan to set up the manufacturing facility could be either by setting up an own unit or through contract manufacturers. Feni, an Indian liquor made from either coconut or the juice of the cashew apple, originated in Goa and the Goan Feni is generally considered superior.

The major Feni brands currently available in Goa and also in certain other markets in the country, include Big Boss, Cashyo and Reals.

In the traditional method of making cashew Feni, the cashew apples are manually crushed on a rock, which is carved or shaped like a basin with an outlet for the juice. The juice is collected in a huge earthen pot called Kodem, which is buried in the ground. The juice is then distilled in earthen or copper pots.

According to industry data available, about 4,000 mini traditional distilleries are known to exist in Goa, manufacturing cashew Feni and about 2,200 tiny distilleries manufacturing coconut Feni.

About 75 per cent of stills (distillery units) making cashew Feni are in north Goa and the rest are in south Goa. As far as the stills making coconut Feni are concerned, south Goa has about 65 per cent of them and the rest are in north Goa.

Since the industry is quite unorganised, no data are available on the existing market size of this regional liquor in India.
C H Unnikrishnan & Rajendra Palande