Coca-Cola will not slow down $5-bn India investments

Written by fe Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 23 2013, 18:30pm hrs
The worlds largest soft drinks maker, Coca-Cola Company, said on Thursday that it will not slow down the $5-billion investment plan announced last year, despite the weakness in the Indian economy.

There will be no slowdown in the execution of our investments in India, Ahmet Bozer, Coca-Cola Internationals president, said on Thursday. We believe that India is a successful market and as our demand and volumes grow, investments can increase. India is in the midst of an economic transition and there will be ups and downs but that will not impact our investments here.

Bozer was in India to celebrate 20 years of Coca-Cola Companys presence in the country. Last year, the soft drink makers global chief executive officer Muhtar Kent had said that the Atlanta-based company will invest $5 billion in India between 2012 and 2020.

The investments are being made across the value chain, said Atul Singh, deputy president, Pacific Group, The Coca-Cola Company. Its not just investment in bottling plants, we are investing in trucks, distribution and basically everything in the value chain.

The company on Thursday also inaugurated a franchise bottling plant at Greater Noida. The facility is owned and operated by Moon Beverages, the new plant has four lines and has come up with an investment of R140 crore. The plant can produce juice, still beverages like water and sports drinks.

Our ongoing investment in the country is focused on delivering innovation, partnerships and a beverage portfolio that enhances the consumer experience, ensures product affordability and builds brand loyalty to deliver long term growth, Bozer said.

However, Coca-Cola is facing headwinds in opening the largest bottling plant in India. Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages, bottling partner for Coca-Cola in India proposes to set up the plant in Karnataka spread over 250 acres, however, the project is likely to be delayed due to land acquisiton delays.

There are some issues about the land acquisition in Karnataka but we have strict internal policies so we carry out own due dilligence before going in for land acquisition, said Singh. We are always exploring options about where a new bottling plant can be set up.

India is currently the seventh-largest market for The Coca-Cola Company, which operates in 207 countries. However, per capita consumption of the companys various beverages is just 14 drinks per person as compared to Mexico where the per capita consumtpion is 754 drinks.

Bullish about the Indian market, the two executives said that India could emerge as a top five market for the company in the next seven years. If we continue to focus on doing the right things in this market, India could emerge as a top five market for the Coca-Cola Company by 2020, said Bozer.