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Coca Cola expects India to be in top 5 markets by 2020

NEW DELHI: Coca Cola, the world's largest softdrink maker, today said it won't slow down its USD 5 billion investment plans in India despite the current slowdown, saying it expects the country to be in its top five global markets within the next seven years. 

The company, which is celebrating 20 years of operations in India since its re-entry in 1993, however, said it is exploring "other options" for its proposed new plant in Karnataka owing to land acquisition issues. 

"There is no slowdown in the execution of our investment plans in India, we don't look at one year. Government is doing what it can to come out of 
the situation and we are confident that India will come out of it," Coca Cola International President Ahmet C Bozer told reporters here. 

He said the world is currently undergoing an economic transition and problems faced by India are not unique to the country and most of the emerging market are facing similar situations. 

Last year, the Atlanta-based beverages giant had announced that it along with partners, would more than double the investment in the country to USD 5 billion by 2020. 

The investment, higher by USD 3 billion from the previous announcement made in November 2011 for a period of five years, was meant for various activities, including setting up of new bottling plants. 

Reiterating the company's faith in India, Bozer said: "If we continue to focus on doing the right things in this market, India could emerge as a top five market for the Coca Cola Company by 2020." 

Currently, India is the seventh largest market for the Atlanta-based firm and it is looking to capture growth opportunities in the packaged beverage market. 

"Our 
investments in India are on track as we build scale, manufacturing capacity, distribution capability and a robust product portfolio to realise our business goals in India," he added. 

The company today inaugurated a franchise bottling plant at Greater Noida. Owned and operated by Moon Beverages, the new plant has four lines and has come up with an investment of Rs 140 crore. It can produce juice, still beverages like water and 
sports drinks. 

With the opening of the Greater Noida plant, the company has now 57 plants in India of which 22 are franchise plants, 23 are company-owned and 12 contract packaging plants. 

When asked if the company is looking at alternate options for its proposed plant in Karnataka which is facing land acquisition hurdles, Coca Cola Pacific Group Deputy President Atul Singh said: "We are always exploring, looking at other areas. India is a large country and we need to expand." 

He said the company has not yet bought land in Karnataka and it was just a memorandum of understanding for a 250 acre project, where it is looking at.