A bottling plant, the 37th facility to bottle Coca-Cola products in China, opened in eastern Jiangxi Province Tuesday.
Costing 100 million yuan (14.3 million U.S. dollars), the COFCO Coca-Cola Beverages (Jiangxi) Co., Ltd. is due to create 424 new jobs and an additional 4,000 jobs with local suppliers.
The plant has an annual capacity of almost 500 million bottles, and will serve 44 million people in the province. The plant will bottle Coca-Cola products. The annual per capita consumption of Coca-Cola products in Jiangxi is seven bottles. The China average is 28 bottles.
The 147,000-square-metre facility of China National Cereals, Oils & Foodstuffs Imp. & Exp. Corp. (COFCO) Coca-Cola Beverage Ltd., a 65 percent -to-35 percent joint venture established in 2000 between COFCO and Coca-Cola, is in the Xiaolan Economic Development Zone of Nanchang City.
At the opening ceremony, COFCO Chairman Frank Ning said: "COFCO has had positive relations with Jiangxi. The favorable investment climate in Jiangxi has encouraged us to work with Coca-Cola in opening a new facility, which we expect to lead to more collaborative opportunities between COFCO and Jiangxi."
Jiangxi Province Governor Wu Xinxiong said: "I represent the Jiangxi people in warmly congratulating the opening of COFCO Coca-Cola Beverages (Jiangxi) Co., Ltd.. Today's opening will boost the development of Jiangxi's local industry and help the Jiangxi economy take off."
"We have announced a new 2-billion-U.S.-dollar investment package from the end of 2008, through to 2011," said Muhtar Kent, chairman and chief executive officer of Coca-Cola.
The investment, to employ more than 30,000 people, will be used in new plants, enlarging existing plants, distribution, logistics, sales operations and marketing, said Kent. To be more specific, he said, they will be used for new refrigeration equipment, new sales operations, warehouses, logistics, trucks, distribution vehicles, IT and marketing.
Kent said he will Wednesday open a similar plant in Urumqi in northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. The construction and operation of a plant in Hohhot of northern Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, which will be completed in the next 18 months, is part of that package.
"And we will make many other investments," said Kent.
"We think China's economic stimulus package has been planned and implemented exceedingly well. Although the world economy is going to shrink by about 3 percent in 2009, China will continue to grow by 6 to 8 percent," said Kent.
"I think there are other countries that will also continue to grow, like some Latin American countries, and probably some other Asian countries like Indonesia, but China as the major economy is going to be the only country having positive economic growth in 2009, a tribute to how well the Chinese government has designed and implemented the stimulus plan, to create internal demand," said Kent.
The Jiangxi plant is aligned with the Chinese government's call for greater investment and economic development in central and western communities, he said.
"These plants are going to be expanded in the future as our business develops," he said.
For the last five years, Coca-Cola has experienced double-digit growth in China, including 19 percent in 2008. China is Coca-Cola's third largest market after the United States and Mexico, said Kent. In the first quarter of 2009, Coca-Cola grew 2 percent globally (volume growth), and 11 percent in China, he said.