Coca-Cola bets big on India as growth slows in US

June 26, 2012 - 4:46 PM

India Coca Cola

Coca-Cola Co. Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent pauses during a meeting in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, June 26, 2012. The world's biggest beverage maker plans to invest US$5 billion in India from 2012 to 2020. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

NEW YORK (AP) — The Coca-Cola Co. and its bottlers plan to invest an additional $3 billion in India over the next eight years to boost the soda giant's stake in the rapidly growing market.

The world's biggest beverage maker, whose brands include Minute Maid, Dasani and Powerade, is seeing some of its biggest gains come from emerging markets as growth at home slows.

In its first quarter, for example, Coca-Cola said its volume rose 20 percent in India, compared with a 2 percent increase in North America.

Including the new cash infusion, Coca-Cola said Tuesday that it now plans to invest $5 billion in India between 2012 and 2020. That's more than double the $2 billion it has invested since re-entering the market in 1993.

The Atlanta-based company had pulled out of India in 1977 to avoid handing control over to its Indian subsidiary and revealing its secret formula.

Globally, Coca-Cola's market share of carbonated soft drinks is 52 percent, compared with 21.4 percent for PepsiCo Inc., according to the industry tracker Beverage Digest.

"In most markets outside the U.S., Coke has a very large lead in carbonated soft drinks," said John Sicher, publisher of Beverage Digest.

In India, he said, the gap is smaller; Coca-Cola has 56 percent of the market versus PepsiCo's 40 percent.

Coca-Cola's dominance in the country isn't the result of its namesake cola, however.

The company's Thums Up — a spicier local soda it acquired in 1993 — and Sprite are the top-selling soft drink brands in India, each with 16.5 percent of the market, while its Maaza is the top-selling juice.

The company's namesake Coca-Cola, meanwhile, has just 8.8 percent of the carbonated soft drink market, trailing PepsiCo's flagship soda, which has 15 percent, according to Euromonitor International.

PepsiCo, based in Purchase, N.Y., re-entered India in 1989, a few years ahead of Coca-Cola.

Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent said that the company's increased investment in India is part of its plan to double revenue over this decade.

The company and its bottling partners plan to invest more than $30 billion globally over the next five years for new manufacturing plants, distribution systems and marketing to support growth in emerging markets.

Coca-Cola's shares rose 31 cents to $75.08 Tuesday, near the high end of their range of $63.34 to $77.82 over the past 52 weeks.