Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Coca Cola's $2billion Investment in the World's Diabetes Capital

The Coca Cola Company announced yesterday that it will be investing $2 billion to increase its market share in India's non alcoholic beverage market. India is a strategic growth country for The Coca-Cola Company and ranks among its top 10 markets in global volume.

Ahmet C. Bozer, Coca-Cola's President, Eurasia and Africa Group, said, "India is one of our most important growth markets as we work toward our 2020 Vision of doubling system revenues and servings this decade. The opportunity in the packaged beverage segment is immense, and our efforts in India are focused on being the beverage of choice all day, every day. If we continue to do the right things each day and at all times, it would not surprise me if India becomes one of the top five markets for the Company globally by the end of this decade."

Coincidentally, and certainly ironically, yesterday also marked World Diabetes Day.  Of course not all Coke products are sweetened, but I read the announcement of this investment with some alarm.

You see, India has the dubious distinction of having the most diabetics in the world.

Some stats on the severity of India's diabetes pandemic:
Over 30 million have now been diagnosed with diabetes in India. The CPR (Crude prevalence rate) in the urban areas of India is thought to be 9 per cent. In rural areas, the prevalence is approximately 3 per cent of the total population.
According to the Hindustan Times,
Various studies have shown that the high incidence of diabetes in India is mainly because of sedentary lifestyle, lack of physical activity, obesity, stress and consumption of diets rich in fat, sugar and calories.
The most prevalent is the Type 2 diabetes, which constitutes 95 per cent of the diabetic population in the country. 
When I visited India almost 20 years ago, we were advised to drink bottled pop rather than risking picking up malign amoebae from the drinking water.  Although the country has developed considerably since then, I know there are still significant problems with its water supply.

As India's middle class continues to grow, more and more people have the money to buy bottled beverages.   From Coca Cola's point of view, it certainly makes sense to capture a piece of this lucrative market.

I think it's a terrible pity that the $2 billion investment is going towards products that will only contribute to India's health care problems.

A $2 billion investment towards providing India's billion inhabitants with access to clean drinking water would be so much more helpful.

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