Coke Plans $2 Billion Investment in India

Predicts that India will become one of the top five markets globally for the company by the end of the decade.

World beverage leader Coca-Cola said on Nov. 14 that it plans to invest $2 billion over five years in India, stepping up its rivalry with PepsiCo in the South Asian emerging market giant.

The company said that the non-alcoholic beverage market has enormous growth potential in India, which has a burgeoning young population.

"It would not surprise me if India became one of the top five markets globally for the company by the end of the decade," Coca-Cola Eurasia and Africa group president Ahmet Bozer said.

Right now, India, a country of 1.2 billion people, ranks among the multinational giant's top 10 markets by volume globally, Coke said.

The brands Coke and rival PepsiCo dominate India's vast soft drinks market.

Coke said the $2 billion investment by the company and its bottling partners will be spread over five years, starting in 2012.

The company said it will use the money to boost manufacturing, invest in marketing and brand building and expand distributing to meet growing consumer demand.

"Our India business has been growing at a robust rate over the last five years and it is our goal to continue its growth momentum," said Atul Singh, chief executive of Coke India.

"The country's demographics, economic and social parameters are huge drivers of growth and we have to ensure we capitalize on the opportunity," he said.

India is one of the most important growth markets for the company and the investment is being made as part of Coke's strategy to sharply increase global revenues, Coke said.

Coke left India in 1977 after an Indian government ruling that would have required it to share its "secret formula" with its local partners. It re-entered the country in 1993.

Coke said it has invested over $2 billion in India since it restarted operations in the country and directly employs more than 25,000 people, and has created indirect employment for more than 150,000 others.

Globally, Coke and its bottling partners are investing nearly $30 billion over the next five years to keep pace with expected demand, the company said.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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