Coca-Cola yesterday opened a bottling plant in Bhaluka, the US beverage maker's first factory in Bangladesh, as part of its $74 million investment plan for the country.
Finance Minister AMA Muhith, flanked by Mashiur Rahman, prime minister's economic affairs adviser; Marcia Bernicat, US ambassador to Bangladesh; and John Murphy, president of the Asia Pacific Group of the Coca-Cola Company, inaugurated the plant.
International Beverages Private Ltd, a division of Coca-Cola and the largest bottling partner of the US company in Bangladesh, built the plant.
This is the largest foreign direct investment in the fast-moving consumer goods segment in Bangladesh in 20 years, according to a statement from Coca-Cola.
The investment includes $60 million for the new plant and the rest for infrastructure and marketing initiatives.
The new facility represents the company's continued commitment to long-term business development as well as sustainable development of local societies in Bangladesh, Coca-Cola said.
The plant will initially run two lines to produce Coca-Cola, Fanta, Sprite and Kinley water.
More than 150 people will be employed at the plant and about 1,000 more indirect jobs will be created through the entire value chain, including transportation, manufacturing and packaging supply.
Muhith said: “I am here to express gratitude on behalf of the government of Bangladesh to Coca-Cola for opening their first factory in the country.”
Mashiur Rahman said: “My utmost gratitude goes to the prime minister, who got personally involved and oversaw the process herself. Once we received the encouragement, we strictly followed the principles of ethics and compliance to set up the arrangements.”
“Coca-Cola is keen on the quality of their production and that is why they requested setting up this plant. I thank Coca-Cola for starting its journey in Bangladesh and I would like to see that the journey picks up speed and moves fast.”
John Murphy said Coca-Cola does not take investments of this size lightly.
“We chose Bangladesh for this plant and investment for a multitude of reason but, more among the most important were the country's positive attitude towards undertaking reforms for business growth and the availability of a highly-skilled workforce.”
Ambassador Bernicat thanked the government for supporting US companies such as Coca-Cola to invest in Bangladesh.
She said Coca-Cola has invested almost $75 million in the expansion of the Bangladeshi market, which has enormous potential. “That's a great vote of confidence in this country and its people.” Irial Finan, executive vice president of Coca-Cola, said the opening of the plant and the accompanying investment represent tremendous momentum for Coca-Cola's business in Bangladesh.
“It is our hope that people view our presence as a representation of our strong belief in this country and optimism in creating a stronger future for our communities and businesses.”
Venkatesh Kini, president of Coca-Cola for India and Southwest Asia, said Bangladesh is fast emerging as one of the world's most important growth markets for consumer product companies. T Krishnakumar, chief executive officer of Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Pvt Ltd, also spoke.