Food & Drink

The what, when, and how of ARTOS, the century old soft drink from East Godavari

The art directors of Sukumar’s Rangasthalam recreated a 1980s village in the East Godavari District, near Rajahmundry. And they did it with such meticulousness, that they reminded us of the century-old soft drink, Artos. This local beverage, which originated in Ramchandrapuram, dates back to the time when the consumption of soft drinks was unheard of. This beverage marks a historical journey from the yesteryears of Goli Soda to the modern-day trend of soft drinks. Even today, the local people of the East Godavari District tend to prefer Artos over its popular foreign counterparts.

Though MNCs tried to overshadow the local drink, Artos managed to give the two global beverage giants, ‘Coca Cola’ and ‘Pepsi’, a run for their money by selling its drinks at half the price of its competitors. The pesticide controversy may have made the soft drink giants jittery, but the only brand that is going strong with enhanced credibility and sparkling freshness is Adduri Ramachandra Raju Tonics, or as we know it, ARTOS.

Inception

Adduri Ramachandra Raju, the founder of Artos, joined as a clerk in a British contractor’s team. One day, Ramachandra Raju saw a rotten soda-making machine lying at one corner of the collector’s office. Though he carted the machine to his house, Raju did not know how to get it repaired. Eventually, a foreign traveller suggested Raju visit the Visakhapatnam Port where he could meet some sailors with the technical know-how of the machine. Thus, began his entrepreneurial journey with a small step in 1912 by filling soda water in soda bottles, and selling them at the local market.

Challenges

World War II was a major challenge for the company as there was an abrupt freeze on imports of drink essence. “We made our own essences and never stopped the flow even during the most challenging times,” Mr Adduri Jagannadha Varma said. They purchased lemons from the market and made acids and liquid sugar was made from refined jaggery. 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. But the Raju brothers did not lose confidence. They brought oranges growing in the forests, peeled them off and extracted fruit juice concentrate.

Triumph

Mr Adduri Jagannadha Varma said, “This family business of ours is a matter of our pride. Exciting thing is that our fourth generation is jumping to take charge to expand the business to a larger scale.” He is proud of resisting deals with entities such as Walmart and Reliance to prevent the dilution of the brand value.

Artos, the fizz of East Godavari, emerged victorious against all odds. Retaining the product quality, the skimming pricing strategy, and the loyalty attributed to the product has made it survive the heavy competition from MNCs.

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