Beverage giant Coca-Cola is moving closer to establishing bottling facilities in Myanmar but said reports the company had been given approval to set up factories were premature.
Myanmar-language news journal The Yangon Times reported on January 7 that Coca-Cola had been given the green light on December 28 by the Myanmar Investment Commission to set up four bottling plants in Myanmar.
However, a Coca-Cola spokesperson told The Myanmar Times on January 9 that a deal is still being finalised.
“The Coca-Cola Company applied to the Myanmar Investment Commission for a Foreign Investment Licence. Discussions with the MIC continue to advance, with some further steps still required to complete the process,” said Karen Thompson, public relations and communications director for Coca-Cola Myanmar.
Although imported for decades, Coca-Cola made the first official shipment of its products to Myanmar in 60 years on September 10, 2012. As the world’s largest soft drink manufacturer and one of the world’s most recognisable brands, Coca-Cola’s return to Myanmar received considerable media coverage.
Coca-Cola chairman and CEO Muthar Kent was on hand for the event, posing with a thanaka-wearing shopkeeper and a case of the beverage.
At the time Coca-Cola said that it was working towards establishing a bottling facility with Myanmar’s Pinya Manufacturing Co Ltd. Pinya produces the popular Max and Max Plus line of soft drinks and distributes them nationally.
“The prospective collaboration aims to bring the best of Coca-Cola’s global system business practices to Myanmar and leverage existing local business talent and market insights. The intent is to commence local production as soon as possible, building on an initial distribution agreement established with Pinya to make product available throughout the country immediately,” said a press release from Coca-Cola on September 10.
A senior official at Pinya declined to comment on the bottling facility deal because talks are ongoing.
A statement posted on the website of President U Thein Sein’s Office on September 6 projected Coca-Cola would make a US$100 million investment in Myanmar that would create roughly 2000 jobs within the country.
A Coca-Cola representative did not confirm the exact figures but did say: “Our intent is to invest significant capital over the coming years, generating thousands of jobs.”