Coca-Cola turns 20 in India, its 7th largest market

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New Delhi, Aug 22: India has emerged as the 7th largest market for Coca-Cola, one of the world's best-known soft drink brands, after the soft drink re-entered the country two decades ago with an investment of over $2 billion to date and another $5 billion lined up by 2020.

"I see India emerging as one of the top five markets for The Coca-Cola Company by 2020," Ahmet C. Bozer, executive vice president, said at an interactive session with reporters here, after opening a new plant in Greater Noida earlier in the day. This is the 57th plant in India.

Coca- Cola to grow rapidly in the future
"Coca-Cola is now celebrating two decades of re-starting its operations in India," said Ahmet, alluding to the company's exit ordered in 1977 by industry minister George Fernandes, a socialist, in the then Janata Party government of prime minister Morarji Desai.

"We are out to be successful in India. The country will continue to flourish. Our $5 billion investment plan is on track. We do not anticipate that it will come down, rather it can increase."

The company has seen six consecutive years of double-digit growth in India.

He said the $5 billion investment would be done through internal cash flow and that the company was not considering any initial public offering (IPO) here now.

Atul Singh, deputy president, Pacific group of the company, said the $5 billion would be invested in manufacturing, logistics, marketing and supply-chain management.


"By 2020, India will be the third-largest economy globally and a large chunk of its population will be young, so that will be a good opportunity to increase per capita consumption," Singh said.

Talking about its new bottling plant at Greater Noida, he said the company can come out with new categories of uncarbonated beverages like juice, tea and fruit drinks from this plant.

Coca-Cola's India operations provide direct jobs to 25,000 people, indirect employment to 150,000 more, with products distributed from more than 2.15 million retail outlets.

It is also one of the largest buyers of sugar, mango pulp and coffee beans in India.
Bozer mentioned that the company's Still variety is growing faster than the Sparkling (Coca Cola, Sprite) variety.

Today, apart from its own drinks, the company also has in its kitty some iconic brands that were once "Indian", built during the post-coke era of the late 1970s and the 1980s. These are Thums Up, Limca and Maaza.

IANS

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