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Coca-Cola remains committed to $5 bn investment in India

NEW DELHI: Beverages giant Coca-Cola says it will go ahead with a planned $5 billion investment to make India its fifth-biggest market globally, notwithstanding the current economic slowdown in the country. 

"We remain committed to our $5 billion
investments which we announced in 2012...We remain very positive about the long-term outlook for India," Coca-Cola Indiaand South West Asia Deputy Business Unit President Venkatesh Kini told PTI. 

The investment is intended to lift India from its current seventh rank globally over the next few years, he added. 

Earlier this week, Coca-Cola inaugurated its 58th bottling plant in the country in Chatta, on which its franchise partner has invested over Rs 135 crore. 

"This is our second inauguration of a greenfield project in Uttar Pradesh. Both are over Rs 100 crore investments," Kini said. 

Atlanta-based Coca-Cola, which has completed 20 years in India, had earlier this year opened a bottling facility in Greater Noida. Last year, the company announced an investment of $5 billion in India by 2020. 

"We are bullish about the growth prospects for our business here," he added. 

Since it began operations in India in 1993, Coca-Cola has invested about $2 billion in the country until 2011. 

"Our combined portfolio has been growing at double-digit rates for the last few years. In fact, we have just announced the 29th consecutive quarter of growth, of which 19 have been periods of double-digit growth," Kini said. 

In the third quarter ended September 30, the company posted a 6 per cent volume growth in India compared with 1 per cent in the previous quarter. 

In India, Coca-Cola sells carbonated and non-carbonated drinks such as Coca-Cola, Fanta, Thums Up, 
Sprite, Maaza, Minute Maid and Kinley. 

Asked about expanding its product portfolio in India, Kini said it is "always looking at opportunities," without elaborating. 

On setting up more bottling plants in the country, Kini said: "The growth we are planning will require many such investments." 

Coca-Cola's strategy remains the same -- "to make the right brand in the right pack in the right outlets" and sell to customers in a way that appeals to them, he said.