Coke gaining ground

Soft drinks giant Coca Cola says it's gaining ground on competitors in the region, but the Pepsi-Coke rivalry is set to to hit Iraq.

  • E-Mail
By  David Cass Published  January 22, 2004

Soft drinks brand Coca Cola is gaining ground on its competitors in the Middle East, recording what the president of Coke’s Eurasia and Middle East division describes as “high single digit” growth over the past year. Ahmet Bozer was visiting Dubai after attending the Saudi Economic Summit in Riyadh and said that the region’s economic outlook suggested that growth in both the soft drinks sector and Coke’s share of it, would continue the upward trend that began in the second half of 2003. Bozer was critical of critics of the US who have tried to apply a boycott to what are perceived as American brands, like McDonalds and Coca Cola. “They do not understand that if they boycott Coca cola they are damaging their own economy, because all of our operations around the region are wholly owned local companies, employing thousands of local people, so a boycott that hits sales damages only themselves.” Despite the boycotts, called throughout the region in response to the Iraq war and US counter terrorism measures that appear racist, Bozer says that growth has remained healthy. He recognises his next big challenger as Iraq, with the biggest population in the region, where his main competitor has already opened its first bottling plant. Says Bozer, “We are already in Iraq in terms of distribution. We are supplying the market from all the neighbouring countries, like Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and others. Obviously our long term business model is one where you have a bottling franchisee, which produces and distributes in given territories and, for the last year, we have been working on that, finding the territories and talking to people who are interested in becoming franchisees. “Once we get to a stage of nailing that, the right partner for the right territory with the right business plan and the security situation improves a little bit, then we may start production as well.” Bozer acknowledges that security and confidence of the Iraqi people are critical to the timescale on which he will act. He is monitoring both closely. “Security will also drive,” he maintains, “how successful your reconstruction projects will be because that’s going to determine whether Iraq is going to return to a $20,000 per capita income, which it was years ago, from its current $2,000. “We are keeping a very close eye on this. We operate in a number of countries where security could be an issue. Iraq may be one of them. We are not stopping anything and we could make a move there next year or even as early as the end of this year.”

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code