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Coca-Cola global chief flags Delhi violence impact on businesses

Coca-Cola global chief flags Delhi violence impact on businesses

Mumbai: Days after communal violences in New Delhi, beverages major Coca-Cola Global Chairman James Quincey on Monday flagged the impact of the riots on businesses, hoping India resolves its issues in a "democratic" manner.

Quincey, who also serves as the chief executive officer of the Atlanta, a US-headquartered company, underlined that it is India's democratic credentials that make his over 133-year-old company look at the country as a market with long-term potential.

The comments, to a question on the impact of protests and riots on the beverages segment, days after communal clashes in New Delhi that left at least 42 dead, and after months of protests across the country against the government's move to amend citizenship rules.

A recent report pegged the economic losses due to the New Delhi riots alone at Rs 25,000 crore.

"If there are disruptions in the functioning of a society, there will be some degree of problems for all businesses.

"India is a vibrant democracy and it needs to work out what is going on. It is hoped that things get worked out in an appropriate democratic manner," Quincey told reporters.

When asked about the concerns of a consumption slowdown, Quincey said the company does not get affected too much over an uptick or a dip in sales for a particular quarter and is looking forward to a strong 2020 in India.

Quincey said in 2019, India has become the fifth largest market for the company globally in terms of volumes and it is targeting to take it to the fourth position in the next five years.

The company sold 1 billion case units in the country in 2019, attaining the milestone 21 years after its entry into the country, and the target is to double the volumes to 2 billion case units in the next five years, he said.

The aim is to ensure India becomes the third largest market in the world, Quincey said, without disclosing a timeline for the same.

The company, which is under criticism for the high amount of sugar in its drinks, has been reducing the sugar content in Maaza and Thums Up for the last eight months, a company executive said.

The target is to get the sugar content in the drinks to the 6 grams level, he said.

Quincey said both India as well as global markets showed an increase in carbonated drinks which it calls as "sparkling beverages", including in domestic brands like Thums Up and Limca as well. It can be noted that multiple people have expressed concerns over the health impact of such drinks.

In order to achieve its aim of doubling sales, the company will expand in the fruit segments, Quincey said adding that the ambitious target will involve new forays on the products, innovations and technology fronts.

Currently, the company has tapped into four different fruits, with one each for the north, east, west and south regions, an executive said.

The chief executive said the company is on track to complete the Rs 11,000-crore investment on the healthier fruit options announced in 2017 and should complete the same by the end of 2022.

On plastic usage concerns, Quincey said the solution is ensuring that there is no wastage of the bottles and ensuring that all the bottles come back for recycling.

He said that currently, 90 per cent of the plastic bottles are making their way to the recycling facilities and the target is to take the number to 100 per cent and also ensure that the recycled plastic is "food grade".

Quincey added that the carbon footprint of the recycled PET (plastic) bottles is much lesser than a glass bottle as well.

To a question on the impact of the coronavirus epidemic, he said it does not see significant impact due to supply chain issues but hinted that it can get affected if the issues prolong.

There is also resilience in the business because of its localised nature in every geography that it operates in.

Quincey also denied reports of the company aiming to launch cannabis-infused drinks.

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