Fifty years after it brought Pepsi to the Soviet Union, PepsiCo on July 8 opened the new largest bottling plant in its world network.
The opening came amid pledges to boost the company's Russia portfolio during President Barack Obama's visit to Moscow this week.
"Russia is vitally important to PepsiCo," the corporation's chief executive Indra Nooyi said at the inauguration of the plant at Domodedovo, a town on the outskirts of the Russian capital."We will invest one billion dollars in the next three years."
U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, who traveled with Obama to Moscow, hailed PepsiCo's Russian investment as a model for trade ties: "PepsiCo was the first foreign product sold in the USSR." He emphasised that the plant would "create batches of jobs" in Russia at a time when unemployment is steadily climbing amid the global financial crisis.
Russian Economy Minister Elvira Nabiullina applauded the beverage giant's creation of "well-paid jobs" with the launch of its new plant. "Russia welcomes foreign investment. The Russian market is vast and open," she said.
Spread over 70 hectares (170 acres), the plant "will be the largest in Europe for the producing of non-alcoholic beverages and the largest in the world for bottling," the company said. "There is no question there is a global slowdown... but there are 140 million people (in Russia) who have purchasing power and who like the kind of products we make," Nooyi said.
"Russia is extremely welcoming to foreign investment."
PepsiCo, which employs about 12,000 people in Russia, this month marks half a century of selling its trademark beverage in Russia. PepsiCo founder Donald Kendall famously gave Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev a taste of the fizzy cola syrup during a U.S.-sponsored fair in Moscow at the height of the Cold War in 1959. Thirteen years later he reached a deal for the production of Pepsi in the Soviet Union.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009