Coca-Cola is being produced locally in Myanmar for the first time in more than 60 years.

Muhtar Kent, Coca-Cola chairman and CEO, attended the inauguration of a new bottling plant today in Crystal Springs, near Yangon. The facility is part of the company’s planned $200 million investment in Myanmar over the next five years, which will create an estimated 22,000 jobs across the Coca-Cola value chain.

“Last year, we were deeply honored to reintroduce Coca-Cola to Myanmar and begin to become a growing part of the fabric of life here,” Kent told an audience of distinguished guests. “Today, we take the next step in our journey here as we work to refresh the people of Myanmar, inspire moments of happiness and optimism, create value and make a lasting positive difference in this community and beyond.”

The plant opening affirms Coke’s long-term commitment to the rapidly evolving country as it opens up to the world. In September, Kent visited Yangon to oversee the first deliveries of Coca-Cola products by respected local company Pinya Manufacturing Co., which imported beverages from nearby countries. After sanctions were lifted, Coca-Cola became one of the first U.S. companies to be awarded an investment permit under Myanmar’s new Foreign Investment Law. 

Pinya is now producing and distributing Coca-Cola and Sprite in 425-ml PET bottles with uniquely scripted Myanmar labels. Production of the iconic Coca-Cola glass contour bottle and aluminum can is expected to begin in the coming weeks, and more brands and packages will soon follow.

Local teams took to Yangon City this week for a grassroots sampling campaign, refreshing many people with their first-ever sips of Coca-Cola.

Coca-Cola will reach more than 100,000 outlets nationwide over the next six months through increased production and distribution capacity, including a second existing plant in Hlaing Thar Yar.

Kent – who was joined by Madeleine Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State and chair of Albright Stonebridge Group, His Excellency U Myint Swe, Chief Minister of Yangon Region, Pinya officers and other local Coca-Cola representatives – reiterated Coke’s commitment to building stronger communities in Myanmar and creating opportunity for local businesses and entrepreneurs.

For example, The Coca-Cola Foundation provided a $3 million grant to Pact, an NGO, to launch a three-year program to empower nearly 25,000 Myanmar women through financial literacy, entrepreneurship and business management training. Since launching in July 2012, the Swan-Yi initiative has empowered 10,000 women to start their own businesses.

“I want you to know just how deeply honored Coca-Cola is to be even a small part of Myanmar’s journey to a better, brighter future,” Kent concluded.