Coca-Cola opens largest China still beverage investment

HONG KONG, Oct 16 (Reuters) - Coca-Cola KO.N said on Friday that it has opened a 600 million yuan ($88 million) bottling plant in China, its largest single investment in still beverage production in the country, to meet growing demand from Chinese consumers.

The world’s biggest soft drinks maker said in a statement that still beverages accounted for 30 percent of Coca-Cola China’s business.

The plant, based in the central industrial city of Wuhan, is Coca-Cola’s 39th in China and the third it has opened this year in China, the world’s second-largest beverage producer in the world after the United States.

Coca-Cola has committed to investing $2 billion in China over the next three years.

“We are dedicated to providing Chinese consumers with a diversified portfolio of high-quality drinks and we will continue to invest in the full spectrum of the beverage business”, said Doug Jackson, president of Coca-Cola China, in the statement.

Earlier this week, Cola-Cola launched a Minute Maid “Pulpy Milky” fruit dairy product in China, its first dairy beverage offering in the market.

In June, the company said it would establish a still-beverage production base in Sanshui, Guangdong. The facility is scheduled to start operating in 2010. With the completion of the Sanshui operation, Coca-Cola’s total investment in China’s still-beverage market would reach 2.8 billion yuan, according to the company. (Editing by Don Durfee and Chris Lewis)