Swire Beverages sees high single-digit percentage sales growth on Chinese mainland

Rosy prospects in the non-alcoholic ready-to-drink beverage market and stronger manufacturing, distribution and sales network cited for sales growth.

SWIRE Beverages Holding Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong conglomerate Swire Pacific Ltd, expects sales on the Chinese mainland to grow by a high single-digit percentage over the next couple of years.

The company is confident of the growth because of rosy prospects in the country's non-alcoholic ready-to-drink beverage market as well as a strengthened manufacturing, distribution and sales network following a realignment of the Coca-Cola bottling system in the Chinese mainland.

"The Chinese mainland is the third-largest market for Coca-Cola globally by volume and the long term growth potential in the country's non-alcoholic ready-to-drink beverage market remains enormous, mainly due to population growth, urbanization and relatively low consumption per capita compared with developed markets," said Karen So, executive director of Swire Beverages' China operations. 

"After the realignment of Coca-Cola's bottling system in China, we have notably increased the number of production lines by 65 percent to 84 and sales volume by 53 percent to 1.277 billion unit cases and are now able to serve around half of the country's entire population."

In the first nine months of this year, sales of non-alcoholic ready-to-drink beverages climbed 5.9 percent from the same period a year ago in the Chinese mainland, industry data showed. 

A strategic partner with Coca-Cola, Swire Beverages opened its first bottling plants in the Chinese mainland in 1989 in Hangzhou and Nanjing. It now operates 18 bottling plants across the country and employs more than 20,000 workers.

Under an earlier announced 5.87-billion-yuan (US$887 million) deal, Swire Beverages, one of the largest Coca-Cola bottlers in the world, purchased the manufacturing and distribution assets of non-alcoholic ready-to-drink beverages from Coca-Cola, China Foods Ltd, a subsidiary of state-owned food giant COFCO Corp, and other parties. It also acquired a 12.5 percent stake it did not own in Swire Beverages Limited from a subsidiary of Coca-Cola.

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