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May 29, 2011

ARTOS slugs it out with the cola giants Coke and Pepsi

A small cola maker from Ramachandrapuram, in East Godavari, Andhra Pradesh, India is showing a way to battle the cola giants. The bottle is not yet won but many initial  skirmishes  have  been  won  by  the  David (ARTOS). ARTOS (Adduri Ramachandra Raju Tonics) is a 91  year  old brand dating back to the British raj in India.

At a time when Coke and Pepsi retail their 300 ml bottle at 12 rupees, ARTOS sells at Rs 6, exactly half the price.

Adduri Ramachandra Raju the founder of ARTOS began his entrepreneurial journey with a small step in 1912 by filling soda water in soda bottles, and selling them in the local market.

No one was willing to consume the soda as they thought that there was a ghost hidden in the bottle. Raju through perseverance and an uncompromising will power traveled miles requesting people to taste the soda.

The First World War came as a boon to Raju. In 1914, a group of British soldiers camped at Ramachandrapuram tasted the soda and became its ardent fans.

The locals observed the soldiers consuming soda and followed suit. In 1919, Raju's younger brother, Jagannatha Raju, started assisting his brother. Jagannatha Raju started marketing the sodas with a dash of sugar, colour and flavour. 

Later they established contacts with soda makers in London and imported glass bottles, sugar, CO2 gas and flavours for making aerated drinks. Thus was born AP's first soft drink in 1920 - Artos - with the tag line of ”exhilarating, invigorating, aids digestion”.

The industry started flourishing and sales picked up gradually. The Second World War came as a severe jolt with imports coming to a virtual halt. All the soft drink industries (Duke's from Bombay, Spencer's from Madras, Roger's from Delhi and Vincent from Madurai) had to shut down due to non-availability of raw material.

But the Raju brothers did not lose confidence. They brought oranges growing in the forests, peeled them off and extracted fruit juice concentrate.

They purchased lemons from the market and made acids; jaggery was refined and liquid sugar was made. Though the whole process was costly and tedious, the indefatigable brothers went on making soft drinks until after the war. Their sheer hard work paid dividends.

In the late 50’s, many new soft drink companies came up all over the country. Coca Cola entered the Indian market in the sixties. Among the Indian brands, Parle from Bombay started putting up franchisees in Andhra Pradesh from 1968.

With the onslaught of multinationals, almost all the Indian soft drink manufacturers suffered and ARTOS was no different. Despite losing tax reliefs and other related benefits from the state government and having to pay taxes on par with MNCs the company according to Raju has not compromised on quality. The company was forced to hike its MRP from Rs 5 to 5.50 in 1 April 2001. Presently selling at a rate of 6 rupees ARTOS is still doing well in the Godavari district but only time will tell whether it would be another Thums up an Indian soft drink brand  that is doing well Inspite of the presence of Coca-Cola and Pepsi or will end up as victim of the relentless charge of the multinationals.


  1. One of the best post i saw here. Keep it going! Thank you.

  2. Thanks for sharing a great information about cola giants. Its also known as sports drinks. many people take cokes at the time of sports and etc.