Ramesh Chauhan: The man who popularised bottled water in India

Nov 24, 2022

By: BI India Bureau

Selling India’s oldest packaged water brand

Bisleri International chairman Ramesh Chauhan confirmed that the packaged water business was being sold and talks were on with several prospective buyers, including Tata Consumer Products. He denied reports Tata Consumer had already bought Bisleri for ₹6,000-7,000 crore.

Credit: Pexels

Where it all began: when Parle acquired Bisleri

In 1969, under Ramesh Chauhan’s leadership, Parle acquired Bisleri mineral water from the Italian company, Felice Bisleri. Unable to market bottled water, Felice Bisleri wanted to exit the India market.

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Who is Ramesh Chauhan?

The fourth child of Jayantilal and Jaya Chauhan, Ramesh Chauhan was born on June 17, 1940. After graduating from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), he joined his family business.

Credit: Instagram/Ramesh-J-Chauhan-image-of-his-father

His educational background

Chauhan, who holds a double major in Mechanical Engineering and Business Management, was 22 when he returned to India after graduating from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

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A veteran industrialist

82-year-old Ramesh Chauhan has an experience of over 50 years. During this time, he has introduced and managed brands like Bisleri, Vedica, Thums Up, Limca and Gold Spot, among others.

Credit: Instagram/Ramesh-J-Chauhan

Popularising Bisleri in India

As per Chauhan’s own admission, initially, Bisleri’s consumption was dominated by foreigners and NRIs. The introduction of a cheaper and easier-to-carry version (the 500-ml bottle for just ₹5) in 1995 helped increase the adoption of bottled water by Indians, giving the company a 400 percent growth.

Credit: Instagram/Ramesh-J-Chauhan

Entering the carbonated drinks segment

When The Coca-Cola Company exited the Indian market in 1977, Parle, under Chauhan, took over the carbonated drinks segment in India and introduced cola drink Thums Up, lemon -flavoured drink Limca and orange-flavoured drink Gold Spot.

Credit: Instagram/Ramesh-J-Chauhan

The sale of Thums Up

In 1991, post India’s economic liberalisation, The Coca-Cola company returned to India. Two years later, Parle sold its carbonated drinks segment that included big brands like Thums Up, Gold Spot, Limca, Maaza and Citra to Coca-Cola for $60 million. At the time, Thums Up had 85 percent market share.

Credit: Instagram/Ramesh-J-Chauhan

Introduction of Vedica

In 2010, Parle entered the premium natural mineral water segment with Vedica. Currently, a 1-ltr bottle of Vedica is priced anywhere between ₹47-49, while a 1-ltr bottle of Bisleri is priced at ₹20.

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Re-entering the carbonated drinks segment

In 2016, 23 years after exiting the carbonated drinks market, Bisleri reentered the soft drink industry by launching four new fizzy drinks, Bisleri Limonata, Bisleri Fonzo, Bisleri Pina Colada and Bisleri Spyci. However, the launch was not successful.

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Ramesh Chauhan’s biography

On completing 50 years with Parle, Chauhan's biography, 'Thunder Unbottled, From Thums Up to Bisleri', written by journalist Patricia J Sethi, was launched.

Credit: Bisleri

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