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Coca-Cola Eyes Major Growth in India

By:  David Winzelberg Oct 23, 2012
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Coca-Cola Eyes Major Growth in India

The Coca-Cola Company, led by chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent, is investing in India.

If someone gives you a Thums Up in Mumbai, you'll walk away feeling refreshed.

That’s because Thums Up is the top-selling soft drink in India. But the popular drink’s ubiquitous red thumbs-up logo is also a sign of the progress that The Coca-Cola Company has made in winning over an increasing number of Indian consumers.

In fact, Coke was recognized as India's most trusted beverage brand in Brand Equity's 2011 Most Trusted Brands survey, and Coca-Cola India ranks among the top-five most-respected fast-moving consumer goods companies in the country, according to BusinessWorld's 2011 Most Respected Companies list.

Investing — and Growing Quickly — in India

Business in India is certainly on the upswing. Coca-Cola has realized 21 consecutive quarters of growth and is among the country’s fastest-growing sparkling brands. In addition to the popularity of Thums Up, Maaza, a mango-flavored beverage bottled by Coca-Cola, is India's top-selling juice drink.

India has embraced Coca-Cola’s brands and products, and the world’s largest soft drink company is pouring its trust into India’s enormous potential for sustainable growth: The company recently embarked on a five-year, $2 billion investment in the country and its people. The money will go toward building new infrastructure, partnerships, sustainability programs and more.

Creating Jobs, Supporting Education and Helping India Grow

Coca-Cola actively supports education in India and has responded to local needs for health care, water and nutrition. What's more, since Coca-Cola's re-entry into the country in 1993, the company has played an important role in India’s economic and social growth. The company, which employs more than 25,000 people in India, encourages recycling and environmental stewardship. Indirectly, Coca-Cola has created an estimated 150,000 jobs in related industries. Coca-Cola’s Indian operations consist of 57 bottling plants, which are owned by the company or franchisees, and more than 20 local contractors make a range of products for the company.

“India is one of our most important growth markets as we work toward our 2020 Vision of doubling system revenues and servings this decade,” says Ahmet C. Bozer, Coca-Cola's president, Eurasia and Africa group.

In the last few years, India’s imports and exports have risen dramatically. The country exported a record $304.6 billion worth of goods in the 12 months from April 2011 to April 2012 and imported $489.4 billion in the same period, according to numbers from the Reserve Bank of India. That $794 billion in trade represents a whopping 70 percent jump from the country's total trade of $467.1 billion just two years ago.

The U.S. is India’s third largest global trade partner, behind China and the United Arab Emirates. Imports and exports between India and the U.S. have now reached $57.7 billion annually.

Reducing, Reusing and Replenishing Fresh Water

India's robust demand for services is often too much for the country’s antiquated infrastructure to handle. This has resulted in contamination and shortages of potable water. To ward off such problems, Coca-Cola has been hard at work helping to reduce, reuse and replenish fresh water. The company's continuing efforts in the area of environment conservation, water management and sustainability have been widely recognized by groups such as India’s Construction Industry Development Council, which recently awarded Coca-Cola the coveted Vishwakarma Award for its rainwater harvesting efforts in partnership with communities throughout the country.

The demand for water is also an important issue for India’s vast market of agriculture, which directly or indirectly employs almost 70 percent of the population. Coca-Cola and other corporate partners have been working to solve problems and modernize India’s centuries-old farming methods.For example, Project Unnati, a sustainable agriculture initiative by Coca-Cola and Jain Irrigation, is establishing 100 demonstration farms and training more than 50,000 farmers over the next five years. The $2 million first phase of the program uses customized buses — classrooms on wheels — to provide on-the-go training in ultra-high-density plantation techniques that can help farmers double their mango yields.

Helping the People of India Thrive

Coca-Cola is also investing in India’s most valuable asset: its people. In addition to supporting individual schools, Coca-Cola India is working to advance business education. The company is teaming up with the Indian School of Business (ISB) to establish the Coca-Cola ISB Retail Academy, a first-of-its-kind specialized academic program to educate and train retail sector professionals in India. 

Meanwhile, Coca-Cola’s latest investment will create even more opportunities for the local community, says Atul Singh, president and CEO of Coca-Cola India and South West Asia. “This investment is a part of our long-term commitment to invest in innovation, partnerships and a portfolio of brands that will enable us to grow our business in a sustainable and responsible way."