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Ahmet Bozer, president of Coca-Cola International, has an
interview with journalists in Beijing, capital of China, May 9, 2013. The
Coca-Cola Company announced here on Thursday that it will continue to increase
investment levels in China. Bozer said during an interview that 4 billion U.S.
dollars of investment will be added by 2014 in China. And he explained that the
investment is mixed with marketing assets like plants, transportation and retail
outlets. [Photo: Xinhua/Wu Kaixiang]
Move part of drinks giant's plan to boost availability of products
The Coca-Cola Company, the world's leading beverage maker, is expected to
enhance the availability of low or no calorie beverages in China and continue to
emphasize its marketing of carbonated drinks in second- and third-tier cities, a
top executive said on Thursday.
Ahmet Bozer, president of Coca-Cola International, said customers in the
central and western regions of China will have more opportunities to purchase
Coke Zero and Coke Light beverages in addition to the drink's sugared
Bozer spoke after visiting the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region in western
China and Zhengzhou, Henan province, in the country's central region.
He said the low or no calorie beverages are part of the company's global
pledge to help fight obesity in more than 200 countries by offering more choices
and transparency to customers.
The commitments, which were announced on Wednesday, include offering low or
no calorie beverage options in every market, supporting physical activity
programs and not advertising to children under 12 years old.
Bozer said obesity is one of the most challenging health issues in the
Coca-Cola's efforts are a response to a trend in China that has seen healthy
drinks take a larger share of the market, while that of carbonated beverages has
decreased, according to an industry report last year.
The China Industrial Information Issuing Center report found carbonated
beverages' market share reduced to 21.91 percent compared with water's 25.7
percent and juice's 22.24 percent. Carbonated beverages had a 36 percent share
Coca-Cola's first quarter sales in China this year grew just 1 percent due to
the bad weather and economic slowdown.
But the soft drink maker is pleased with the performance of its carbonated
and juice categories, and considers the slowdown to be temporary, according to
David Brooks, president of Coca-Cola Greater China and Korea, said it is
important the company maintains its presence in these categories.
The carbonated product that takes up 60 percent of Coca-Cola's portfolio of
beverages in China will continue to be the company's major growth driver,
propelled by market potential in second- and third-tier cities as well as the
Sprite, a product of Coca-Cola, is the most distributed brand of any drink
across all of villages and towns in China, said Brooks.
Between January and September 2012, Coca-Cola ranked No 1 in the carbonated
beverage market, followed by PepsiCo and Mirinda, according to the report.
Sales from the Chinese market accounted for 8 percent of Coca-Cola's global
businesses, or its No 3 market after the United States and Mexico.
To have their carbonated business available even in remote villages will put
Coca-Cola in head-to-head competition with local brands, such as Master Kong of
Tingyi Holdings Corp and Wahaha, which have cultivated stronger distribution
channels in lower-tier cities.
Bozer said the company's "secret formula" is creating local partners,
distribution systems and its own organization, so as to get the brand to
consumers in a way that is relevant to them.
The "old product, new market" strategy will provide Coca-Cola a strong growth
engine after it has reached market saturation in first-tier cities, said Gao
Jianfeng, general manager at Shanghai-based Bogo Consultants.
Meanwhile, local beverage makers are competing more fiercely in first-tier
cities with their newly developed tea drinks and water products.
"It is a battle at each other's main stronghold," Gao said.