CHANGSHA -- China's 44th Coca-Cola production facility began operations today in Hunan Province. The COFCO Coca-Cola Huazhong Beverages Co. Ltd. plant, the largest in Central China, is designed to house nine production lines – four for water, four for sparkling beverages and one for juice and juice drinks. Four of these lines are currently operating, and all nine are expected to be up and running by 2020.

The Changsha plant is the first Coca-Cola facility in Hunan with non-sparkling beverage production lines. With an expected annual production capacity of 1 billion liters of beverages, COFCO Coca-Cola Huazhong Beverage Co. Ltd. will play a key role in expanding production of still beverages for the growing region.

Coca-Cola invested 320 million yuan ($41 million U.S. dollars) to build the plant, a key part of the company's plan to invest $4 billion in China between 2015 and 2017.

Located in the state-level Wangcheng Economic and Technological Development Zone, the facility follows green standards with a focus on the use of clean energy. Its rainwater recycling system and other resource reuse systems received Gold Certification of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED*).

China Central Plant 2017
Muhtar Kent presents a commemorative plaque to Luan Xiuju, CEO, COFCO Coca-Cola.

Muhtar Kent, chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company; Zhao Shuanglian, chairman, COFCO Corporation; Ma Jianping, vice president of COFCO Corporation; John Murphy, president of Coca-Cola Asia Pacific; Curt Ferguson, president of Coca-Cola Greater China & Korea,;and local government officials attended the opening ceremony.

“China is our third-largest market by volume, and we remain upbeat about the potential for growth throughout the market. Over the past few years, China’s consumer market has undergone significant structural change and we have continued to invest and adapt to ensure we are best serving our consumers and customers in a fast-changing market,” Kent said. “Earlier this month, we completed the majority of refranchising of company-owned bottling operations in China to strong local partners, including COFCO, which will leverage this new plant to further expand the reach of our growing beverage portfolio in central China.”

Central China Bottling Plant 2017
Muhtar Kent presents the COFCO Coca-Cola bottling territory map to Zhang Jianfei, vice governor, Hunan Province.

Shuanglian added, “The completion of COFCO Coca-Cola Huazhong Beverage Co., Ltd. is a new milestone in the history of COFCO and Coca-Cola cooperation, and also our strategic move to explore the central China market. China’s long and stable economic growth provides great opportunity for sustainable development of the beverages industry. We believe that COFCO and Coca-Cola will have wider and longer-term collaboration. We will work together to leverage the synergy of resources and cost optimization so that we will be able to provide better services for our customers and consumers. We will also jointly foster economic and social development in local communities.”

* Note: LEEDTM, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, is a green building certification program of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices. There are four levels of certification: Platinum, Gold, Silver and Certified.