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India-Arab League first ministerial meeting in Bahrain

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New Delhi: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj left for Bahrain to attend the first ministerial meeting between India and the Arab League on Sunday.

“This will be the first-ever ministerial meeting between India and the League of Arab States Foreign Ministers,” external affairs ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup tweeted.

The Arab League comprises 22 countries in West Asia and northern Africa.

The Arab countries combined together are India’s biggest trading partner with total trade of over $180 billion.

The relationship between India and the Arab countries has already been taken to the next level called India-Arab Partnership Conference, four meetings of which have already been held with New Delhi hosting the last one in 2014.

The next conference is scheduled to be held in Oman in May this year.

Emerging areas of cooperation between India and the Arab countries include agriculture, dry land farming, environment protection, information and communication technology (ICT), automobiles, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), biotechnology and space.

Sixty percent of India’s oil and gas comes from West Asia which is an important pillar of the country’s energy security.

The Maghreb region provides phosphates and fertilisers for India’s agricultural sector.

The seven-million strong Indian diaspora in the Gulf countries is an important source of remittances.

The first ministerial meeting in Bahrain on Sunday will provide new opportunities to further strengthen ties between the two sides.

“India has been consistently deepening its engagement with the Arab world. Our ancient ties have transformed into a modern partnership covering a whole host of areas,” said Swarup.

“The first ever India-Arab League ministerial meeting will unveil a new blueprint for our partnership with the very important region,” he added.

India is also concerned over the deepening sectarian divide in the region and the growing footprint of terror groups like the Islamic State.

After Saudi Arabia executed a Shia cleric on charges of terrorism earlier this month, its missions in Iran came under attack and subsequently diplomatic ties between Riyadh and Tehran were cut off.

It is hoped that Sunday’s meeting will also result in greater cooperation in counter-terrorism cooperation between India and the Arab League countries.

After reaching Manama on Saturday, Sushma Swaraj will hold a bilateral meeting with Bahrain.

Secretary (East) in the external affairs, Anil Wadhwa, who is already in Bahrain, is also scheduled to attend a meeting of senior officials of India and the Arab League countries on Saturday.(IANS)

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Coca-Cola plans to break into Indian ‘fruit circular economy’

According to Krishnakumar, Coca-Cola India with its focus on the 'fruit circular economy' will enable the growth in demand for fruits which in turn would improve the farm practices and increase the farmer income

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The company is also planning to launch vegetable-based beverage like carrot juice.
The company is also planning to launch vegetable-based beverage like carrot juice. Wikimedia Commons
  • Coca-Cola is also planning to launch vegetable-based beverage like carrot juice
  • The company plans to launch fruit juices based on the regional preferences
  • The company’s focus on fruit beverages is in line with its philosophy of ‘beverage for life’

Expanding its fruit-based beverage offerings, frozen fruit dessert, getting into dairy based value-added products and also exporting those products developed in India, are some of the plans of Coca-Cola India Pvt Ltd, said a top company official.

He said the company’s focus will be on ‘fruit circular economy’– enabling farmers to increase their yield, source pulp and launch fruit-based products.

The company is also planning to launch vegetable-based beverage like carrot juice.

“We are in the process of developing different fruit beverages including based on regional fruits and would soon be launching them.

“Similarly we will also expand our portfolio of fruit flavoured sparkling drinks like Fanta.

Also Read: Tune into a healthy lifestyle with these natural sweeteners

“After successful piloting of our frozen fruit dessert in Bengaluru, we will launch the product in major cities this April,” T. Krishnamukar, President, Coca-Cola India and Southwest Asia told select media here late on Thursday.

He said the company plans to launch fruit juices based on the regional preferences. For instance, the company would launch mango juices based on mango varieties that are available and popular in a particular region so that there is also a local connect.

Presently the Coca-Cola group is a $21 billion brand.
Presently the Coca-Cola group is a $21 billion brand. Wikimedia Common

“We are also working on a product based on gooseberries,” he added.

According to him, the company has tied up with Jain Irrigation that operates fruit pulping plants in different regions.

“We have tied up with Jain Irrigation for sourcing and pulping mango fruit. Similarly, we have a tie-up with that company for oranges in Maharashtra.

“We expect Jain Irrigation may start setting up an orange pulping plant and the first commercial orange pulp may be available sometime in 2020,” Krishnakumar added.

Also Read: Prepare these Amazing Cocktails for a tipsy Winter

He said the company’s focus on fruit beverages is in line with its philosophy of ‘beverage for life’ meaning to have a product for people in different age groups.

“The philosophy now is to make the company bigger than the Coca-Cola brand.

Presently the Coca-Cola group is a $21 billion brand,” he said.

According to Krishnakumar, Coca-Cola India with its focus on the ‘fruit circular economy’ will enable the growth in demand for fruits which in turn would improve the farm practices and increase the farmer income.

the company would launch mango juices based on mango varieties that are available and popular in a particular region so that there is also a local connect.
the company would launch mango juices based on mango varieties that are available and popular in a particular region so that there is also a local connect. Wikimedia Commons

“We felt we should be more relevant to the local community. Tastes, views vary based on regions. So we have to move globally to local and local to global,” he said.

The company will launch the local fruit beverages-including the mango beverage- under the Minute Maid brand.

“The fruit pulp content will be between 10 percent to 25 percent in such drinks,” Krishnakumar added.

He said the research and development (R&D) work for new products is being done in India and also in Shanghai in China.

Speaking of exports, he said the company has started exporting Indian brands like the carbonated drink ThumsUp and masala soda RimZim to Bangladesh and later to Sri Lanka, Bhutan and other markets.

Also Read: Five Benefits of Honey and Lemon Drink that Can’t be Ignored

“We want to build on Indian brand as a billion dollar beverage brand. We are not shipping the end product but the formula, brand and related matters,” he said.

Speaking of the sugar content in the company’s beverages, Krishnakumar said work in on to reduce the sugar content in its drinks and in five years time the beverages sold by the company will have far less sugar content than what it currently has.

On the foray into the dairy products segment, Krishnakumar said during the second half of the current year the company would launch the value-added dairy product. (IANS)