Coca-Cola, the world's top soft drink producer, will pour in another 4 billion U.S. dollars in China from 2012 to 2014, announced its chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent Thursday in Shanghai.
"We are excited not only with our achievement in China but we are more excited about the prospect of our business in China in the coming years," said Kent in an interview with Xinhua.
This enormous investment plan comes after Coca-Cola announced an additional investment of 2 billion U.S. dollars during 2009-2011, which turned out to be 3 billion U.S. dollars upon completion.
Kent said the new investment will go mainly to expand Coca-Cola's portfolio and packaging, to continue investment in its infrastructure and distribution system, and to invest aggressively in cold drink equipment and to enhance consumer experience.
In its second quarter 2011 financial results, Coca-Cola posted strong worldwide volume growth of 6 percent in both the quarter and year-to-date, with growth across all five geographic operating groups, including in China.
In the first half of 2011, sales in China topped 1 billion unit cases - double the rate sold five years ago when the Company first delivered 1 billion unit cases for a full year.
The CEO said China had an outstanding performance in the latest quarter supported by strong growth in the Coca-Cola brand and Minute Maid Pulpy, the No. one juice brand in China.
On the possibility of going listed on the international board of Shanghai Stock Exchange which is still under discussion, the Coca-Cola CEO said if the opportunity arrived, Coca-Cola would be interested to be part of that.
"It will be a mutually beneficial action if we are listed," said Kent, adding that "it would be a good thing not just for the reasons of capitalization but also for reasons of being a stronger part of the Chinese community."
China is Coca-Cola's third biggest market following the United States and Mexico. Kent said he is convinced that China will become the beverage giant's largest global market but he did not give more details about the timetable.
With the latest investment plan, Coca-Cola's total investment in China since it returned to the market in 1979 is expected to reach 9 billion U.S. dollars in 2014.