For years, Pepsi was the No.1 soda in Thailand, with a 48 percent market share. Coke was only the second most popular drink there, with 42 percent.
But all that changed late last year when PepsiCo failed to renew a distribution contract. Pepsi's main retail distributor withdrew all Pepsi products from its shelves and replaced them with "Est," its own Pepsi-lookalike brand.
By the end of the year, it became difficult to find Pepsi in Thailand, Reuters reports.
Now, Pepsi has only a 15 percent share of the market. Coke is No.1. Est is probably the No.2 brand, with a 19 percent share, and something called "Big Cola" had a 16 percent share at the end of 2012, according to the Bangkok Post.
The catastrophe happened because PepsiCo tried, and failed, to take over the distributor, Serm Suk . When the contract ended, Serm Suk launched Est in Pepsi's place.
The screwup occurred during a time of turmoil for PepsiCo's drinks divisions. The company has lost 30 senior brand managers since 2008. Revenue In PepsiCo's Asia, Middle East and Africa unit declined in 2012 from $7.4 billion to $6.6 billion.
Pepsi is building its own $170 million bottling plant in Rayong, and has partnered with DHL for national delivery.
But many Thais still can't find Pepsi in a store near them:
"It's pretty much impossible to find a bottle of Pepsi these days," said Itiporn Lakarnchua who works for an English-language radio station in Bangkok.
“I still prefer Pepsi to Est,” says Ramet Rattanakansang, “but I couldn’t find any Pepsi cans so I have to switch to Est for the moment.”
One analyst expects Est to solidify it status as the No.2 brand by the end of the year.
Not helping the situation: Pepsi switched from glass bottles to plastic ones. In Thailand, many people believe glass helps soda keep its fizz longer. Est comes in glass bottles.
More From Business Insider