Coca-Cola bets $7 billion on India’s changing consumers

A man walks past a truck that distributes Coca Cola in Mumbai, India. The world's biggest beverage maker said Tuesday that it will invest an additional $3 billion in India through 2020.
(Rajanish Kakade / AP Photo)

Coca-Cola Co., the world’s largest soft-drink maker, plans to spend a total of $7 billion on India through 2020 as it attempts to take advantage of the country’s changing consumer tastes.

The company will add a $3 billion investment to the $2 billion plan it announced in November, Chairman and Chief Executive Muhtar Kent said Tuesday. Coca-Cola has already put more than $2 billion into its India operations since re-entering the country in 1993.

To compare, $7 billion is the same amount that R. Allen Stanford was convicted of bilking from investors in one of the U.S.'s largest Ponzi schemes. Locally produced foods sold at U.S. farmers markets, roadside stands or by middlemen brought in $7 billion in revenue last year. Last month, the L.A. City Council approved a $7.2 billion budget.

Coca-Cola abandoned India in 1977 when government regulations required it to partner with a local company. Now that the rules have changed, the beverage giant employs 25,000 workers there and plans to boost its manufacturing and distribution network.


The Atlanta-based company said it generates strong sales in India from its Thums Up and Sprite labels, as well as its Maaza juice drink.

Competitors such as PepsiCo. Inc. are vying with Coca-Cola for the wallets of India’s burgeoning body of middle-class urbanites. But the entry of major foreign companies such as Wal-Mart and Starbucks – and their employees – hasn’t always been smooth.


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