October 15, 2007 / 11:57 AM / 10 years ago

Coca-Cola sets up Chinese medicine research centre

SHANGHAI, Oct 15 (Reuters) - Coca-Cola Co (KO.N) said on Monday it had set up a research centre to develop drinks using traditional Chinese medicine.

The world’s biggest drinks maker opened the Beijing-based centre at the China Academy of Chinese Medial Sciences, which is affiliated to China’s Ministry of Public Health.

“This is an important step in strengthening our innovation pipeline for beverages that contribute to wellbeing,” said Rhona Applebaum, Coca-Cola’s chief scientist.

“This collaboration will ultimately help us bring the insights and benefits of traditional Chinese medicine to consumers all over the world.”

Chinese medicine, using traditional herbal ingredients and formulas, has evolved through thousands of years of practice and is believed to help prevent and cure diseases.

Coca-Cola is adding alternatives such as tea, water and energy drinks to its range of carbonated drinks as more and more consumers are avoiding sugary soda which they see as fattening.

    Coca-Cola competes in China with rivals including PepsiCo Inc PEP.N, Tingyi (Cayman Islands) Holding Co. (0322.HK), China Huiyuan Juice Group (1886.HK), Taiwan’s Uni-President Enterprises Corp. (1216.TW) and France’s Danone SA (DANO.PA).

    The company said in July it would invest $80 million in a research centre in Shanghai to develop non-carbonated beverages.

    Coca-Cola’s business in China, its fourth-largest market, doubled in the past five years to exceed 1 billion unit cases, or about 5 percent of worldwide sales.

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