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Ahmet Bozer, president of Coca-Cola International, said in Beijing that he expects the brand’s business to continue to grow for many years to come.
“We want to make China our largest beverage market soon,” added Bozer.
Bozer said $4 billion of investment will be added by 2014 in China.
According to the Coca-Cola chief, the company will open a new plant in Shijiazhuang, capital of north China’s Hebei Province, in October.
As China’s rapidly growing middle class gains, Coca Cola is looking to capture new markets in China’s second-and third-tier cities.
Though lagging behind in development these new cities have ‘great potential’, Bozer said.
The company has been developing local partners and distribution systems to make the brand locally relevant, said Bozer.
According to Bai Changbo, vice president of public affairs and communications for Coca-Cola Greater China, the Chinese now drink an average of 39 bottles of Coke per year – a small amount compared to the 400 bottles consumed in the United States.
“Thus, our products have broad growth space in China,” Bai said.
With such growth incentives, Coca-Cola has to keep investing to satisfy the demand, Bai acknowledged.
The first batch of Coca-Cola cans were shipped to China in 1978.
“Our business in China is a mirror of the progress of its opening-up policy,” said David Brooks, president of Coca-Cola Greater China and Korea.
Coca-Cola initially argued with the Chinese government that foreign tourists had to have Coke if the country wanted them to come in, disclosed Brooks.
The Chinese government approved Coca-Cola’s operation in the country in 1979.
Now, the beverage giant has established 42 plants all over China, with a total investment of $5 billion, and 50,000 Chinese local employees.