Coca-Cola Co. said it plans to invest $4 billion in China over the next three years, starting in 2012.

Fueled by brisk sales, Atlanta-based Coca-Cola and its Chinese bottling partners Swire Beverages Ltd. and COFCO Coca-Cola Beverage Co. Ltd. opened five plants in China in 2009 and 2010.

So far this year, they have opened a new plant in Sanshui and will open another plant in Yingkou and break ground on a new plant in Shijiazhuang later this year. The three plants will create 940 new jobs, according to Coca-Cola.

Atlanta-based Coca-Cola and its Chinese bottling partners have 41 plants in China.
"China is one of our most important growth markets in the world as we work to achieve our 2020 Vision goal of doubling system revenues and servings this decade," said Muhtar Kent, chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola.

By the end of the year, Coca-Cola and its Chinese bottling partners will have invested more than $3 billion in China over the last three years, according to the company.

With the recently opened plants, the Coca-Cola system now operates 41 plants and employs more than 48,000 people in China.

China's Thirst for Soft Drinks

Consumption of Coca-Cola products in China represents approximately 7% of the company's global volume.

In the first half of 2011, Coca-Cola's sales in China topped 1 billion unit cases, doubling the company's sales rate in China five years ago, according to the company.

The numbers were driven by growth in Coca-Cola products as well Minute Maid Pulpy, the latter of which is the best-selling juice brand in China, according to Coca-Cola.

Coca-Cola, which re-entered China in 1979, emphasized that it has been a good corporate citizen in China, through projects such as its Project Hope program.

"We work hard to demonstrate our long-term commitment not only through our business investment, but also by supporting China's broader development goals," Kent said.

As part of its Project Hope program, the company expects to rebuild 50 new schools in China by the end of 2011, bringing the total to 118 new schools. The project has focused on rebuilding schools in areas hit by recent earthquakes.