Coca-Cola to Invest $7 billion in Mexico Over Four Years

Investments from the Coca-Cola Co. in projects in Mexico are expected to inject billions of dollars into the country’s economy and could bring thousands of jobs as well. The company announced plans to spend almost $7 billion in the country over the next four years on a number of projects to enhance its supply chain there, Fox News reported.

Industrial improvements 
Coca-Cola plans to spend the money improving production lines, distribution centers and other services it needs, as well as contributing to conservation and recycling efforts. The company has already made substantial investments in a polyethylene terephthalate recycling plant in Toluca that processes soft drink bottles. Francisco Crespo, president of Coca-Cola Mexico, told reporters at an event at the PET plant that the manufacturer had spent $100 million expanding the facility. The plant, which is the largest of its kind in the world, employs 1,200 people, according to Crespo.

Another ongoing effort by Coca-Cola is focused on planting trees in Mexico. In 2009, the company announced its intentions to plant 30 million trees by 2014 to help preserve local water supplies and natural habitats, according to InfoSurHoy. Crespo told reporters that by the end of 2014, the manufacturer will have actually planted 60 million trees, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Cutting calories 
Later this year, the company plans to open a research center for its Latin American market that will work mainly on developing natural, calorie-free sweeteners. As Crespo pointed out, customer demand for drinks with fewer or no calories is increasing, and nearly 40 percent of the company’s products are calorie-free.

The new focus on low-calorie drinks in Mexico may be due to a recent tax increase on high-calorie beverages. In January, Mexico levied a new tax of nearly 12 percent on soft drinks, teas and juices that are high in calories. Bottlers told the Journal that soda sales had slipped since the tax was instituted.

Workers in Mexico 
Employment is relatively low in Mexico. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the country has an employment rate of 61 percent. The average for OECD member countries in 65 percent.

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that the country’s unemployment rate was 5.1 percent as of 2012. While that is lower than the unemployment rate in the U.S., it may indicate that more people are just not looking for work, as the low employment rate suggests.