by Xinhua writer Liu Chen
SHANGHAI, May 1 (Xinhua) -- Both Chinese and U.S. markets need each other as bilateral relations are so intertwined, said Curt Ferguson, president of Coca-Cola Greater China.
In the future the two countries will have closer trade ties which "work both way," and Coca-Cola will further its involvement in China, the regional head of the world's biggest beverage maker told Xinhua in an exclusive interview recently.
Ferguson also expressed Coca-Cola's adherence to free trade and globalization.
As an international brand with branches in over 200 countries, Coca-Cola is a "very strong supporter of globalization," said the company's China chief, adding that free and increased trade "helps everybody."
The reason that people in the United States can afford so many things is because it's been made "cheaply" and "efficiently" in China, he noted.
The president also gave credit to the Chinese market for helping many U.S. companies sustain their gains, including the big names in aircraft- and car-making sectors.
"The reason that Boeing can thrive and General Motors and Ford make their numbers is because they have big businesses in China," the 60-year-old Coca-Cola veteran said.
Ferguson expected to see more American businesses in a great market like China.
Since re-entering China in 1979, the Atlanta-based U.S. soda giant has been expanding its business in the Chinese market which, as Ferguson put it, has "insatiable appetite."
Now China has become Coca-Cola's third biggest market worldwide following the United States and Mexico. The company estimated that a Chinese person consumes about 40 products made by Coca-Cola every year.
Ferguson believed that the localization strategy and longtime devotion to brand building are the key elements for their success.
"Our product only works when it is produced locally," he said.
With a total investment of 9 billion U.S. dollars over the past decades, Coca-Cola now has 44 plants and 45,000 employees in China, according to data from the company.
Although taking the post less than a year ago, Ferguson, formerly charging Coca-Cola's Middle East and North Africa business, said that he has already experienced the fast-paced development in the country.
China is growing with "a lot of creativity" and "a lot of efficiency," he said.
For the beverage giant's future plan in China, Ferguson said that the company will further its involvement in China "in different ways with different products and different brands."
Ferguson hoped that Coca-Cola China, which is servicing 12 million outlets, may double or even triple its outlets with the booming online purchasing trend.
He also noticed the increasingly fierce competition in the Chinese market, in which one has to be "fairly brave and bold to survive."
In the past months, Coca-Cola has been reshaping its business by selling its bottling and distribution operations to independent bottlers, a move interpreted as an effort to focus on its core brand strength.
In the first quarter, Coca-Cola's net income plunged to 1.2 billion dollars, down 20.3 percent from a year ago. Its revenues also fell 11.3 percent to 9.1 billion dollars.
Earlier this month, the maker of Sprite and Fanta put a grinning cartoon portrait of the U.S. business magnate Warren Buffett on cans of its newly launched cherry-flavor coke in China, a new effort to woo Chinese consumers with Buffett's popularity.
"We hope that we are fast enough to stay ahead of the chases," said Ferguson.