Coca-Cola to invest $5.8B in Brazil through 2014

AP News
Posted: Nov 12, 2009 12:58 PM

Coca-Cola Co. said Thursday it is investing $5.8 billion in Brazil in the next five years, a steep increase from its current investment in Latin America's biggest economy.

The world's largest soft drink maker announced the investment _ which lasts from 2010 to 2014 _ on Thursday from Brazil, where it is opening its first eco-friendly plant in Latin America.

The investment, which is being made with local operation Coca-Cola Brasil, is a 75 percent boost over the $3.3 billion the company put into the country from 2005 to this year.

CEO Muhtar Kent said in a statement that Brazil is one of the company's top markets in the world. The company, known for drinks like Coke and Sprite, has been boosting its investments around the globe as its domestic market weakens. Consumers have pulled back on their soft drink spending amid the recession and are also switching to healthier juices and teas.

Brazil is considered a key market right now because it is hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.

A top Brazilian trade official said Thursday his country's economy will likely grow about 9 percent in the fourth quarter as consumer demand surges and exports recover.

"The domestic market is really growing now," Deputy Trade Minister Welber Barral told reporters on the sidelines of a yearly Latin American business conference in Singapore. "The consumer is really spending and that has sustained our overall growth."

Gross domestic product in the world's eighth largest economy is poised to expand 5 percent next year after growth between 1 percent and 1.5 percent this year, he said.

Coca-Cola has also pledged to invest $2 billion in China _ another growth market _ over the next three years.

Shares of Coca-Cola rose 4 cents to $56.17 in afternoon trading Thursday after rising to a 52-week high of $56.38 earlier in the session.