Unforgotten Brands: Kalimark Bovonto


Kalimark and Bovonto in particular has been growing steadily and has witnessed great appreciation from customers in the region

A prosperous businessman’s son was PalaniAppa Nadar. He had no interest in following in his father’s, Kaliappa Nadar’s, footsteps as a coffee and cardamom exporter. In contrast, he parted from his family and embarked on a solo mission in what is now called Virudhunagar (formerly Virudhupatti). From affluence to rags, it was his life’s lesson. To make ends meet, he sold buttermilk and even dried cow dung on the streets.

He started lending money to others after a certain point. During this time, a soft drink business owner who couldn’t pay instead handed the machine to him. Nadar returned home with the equipment, but he was bereft of any plans for its use.

If Palani Appa’s wife, Unnamallai Ammal, hadn’t been so inventive, the machine would have been abandoned to rust in a dark corner of their house. After she mastered the machine, she pushed her husband to do the same. Eventually, he received assistance from some industrial workers, who instructed him in more complex techniques that may be applied to the machine. He got into the soda industry after seeing Spencer’s products marketed on trains and chose to name his brand after his father.

He began making a few bottles of “goli soda” (a kind of carbonated soft drink) every day using that hand-operated machine in his home. The bottle had a coloured stone in the neck that served as a stopper.

Learning, however, was insufficient in 1916, when consumers were ill-prepared to try out new products. Consequently, Palani Appa would ride a bullock cart to other towns to persuade store owners to stock his wares. They would flavour the drink with various culinary hues. The term for these beverages back then was “colour,” and several options were already available.

Then, what was this stranger’s secret to the store owners’ desire to stock his drink? Brilliant. He would pre-plan by going shopping as a consumer and purchasing a standard beverage. “This tastes awful,” he would say after taking a drink from other diners. Kalimark has a new drink that you should try. What a delicious flavour! He would deliver his goods there a day later in his capacity as a merchant, and the shopkeeper, who would probably be curious by this point, would likely agree to give it a try.

The drink was so well-received by retailers that he decided to crank out more of it in response to their demands. He moved manufacturing to a plant in Virudhunagar that same year, 1916. New locations were set up in Madurai, Tirunelveli, Tiruchirappalli, Kumbakonam, Chennai, or Karaikudi every four years because of its increasing popularity. Even as the independence movement continued, the company’s growth continued unabated. As sales skyrocketed, the founder’s children eventually took over the business.

Kalimark launched the first Bovonto, an aerated beverage with a grape flavour, in 1958. Its distinctive grape taste sets it apart from the industry heavyweights that control the cola industry. The drink has a slightly carbonated flavour similar to grape cola, with a tang. Bovonto has chemicals that help the drink taste better with less carbonation than other sodas. It was targeted at wealthy Chettiars, especially at weddings.


Despite its strong familial ties, the company decided to split into autonomous sections in 1977 in response to increasing sales and the introduction of new goods. These units would have access to equipment, infrastructure, and financial resources. All parties involved agreed to use the name Kali Aerated Water Works, with any additional names for cities like Madurai or Tiruchirappalli included in brackets. To head off any potential issues in the future, in 1993, the technicalities of the trade name and trademark were ironed out, and the firm was divided eight ways between relatives. At that point, two further production units had already been established in Salem and Karur.

Joining Together

The reunited family established Kalis Sparkling Water Private Ltd., a Rs. 15-crore production facility in Nilakottai, Dindigul, to compete with international brands. Instead of management consultants or specialists, family members join together for a brainstorming session to decide on the launch of new goods or tastes. There are no fancy office buildings, either.

Tamil Nadu is home to eight factories and over 350 distributors, most of whom operate out of smaller towns and rural regions. The corporation offers substantial profits to distributors. Instead of reducing prices to compete with other brands, Kalimark has stuck to its strategy of gradual growth without reducing profitability. When it comes to stocking their items, other businesses don’t provide shops with credit, a makeover for the façade, discounts, or refrigerators.

There was no turning back for the corporation after this. Across the state, they have established nine factories and introduced eight items. Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Dubai, Mumbai, and Delhi are among the places they now ship to.

When it comes to carbonated beverages in Tamil Nadu, Bovonto has around 20% of the market share and is the most beloved beverage from the Kalimark portfolio.





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