Four Coca-Cola bottlers in Brazil have formed a company to build a US$100 million PET preform and bottling plant near Rio de Janeiro. The plant, in the Rio suburb of Queimados, is being constructed by Generalli Refrigerantes SA, a joint venture between Grupo Perma in Niter¢i, Grupo Porto Real in Resende, Grupo Gonal-ves in Belo Horizonte and Grupo Sarmento in Juiz de Fora.
When complete in three years, the facility will have an annual capacity of 200 million PET preforms for 2-liter and 600-milliliter bottles, according to Coca-Cola Ind£strias Ltda., the Brazilian subsidiary of Coca-Cola Co. The plant also will produce 750 million cans of Coca-Cola soft drinks annually.
Preforms will be supplied to 14 bottling plants operated by the four joint venture companies. The bottling plants serve outlets in Brazil's most populous states of Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, Esp¡rito Santo and part of SÃo Paulo.
The new plant is expected to serve about 32 million consumers.
Construction is due to begin in March and the first stage of the plant will be completed in October. This year the Rio factory will reach a capacity of 250 million cans.
Half the investment is for construction. The remainder will go toward equipping and setting up the operation. The facility will create 500 jobs directly and another 2,000 indirectly, Coca-Cola Ind£strias said.
Production will increase the volume of nonreturnable soft drink containers in Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais states by 50 percent for cans and 20 percent for PET bottles, according to Coca-Cola.
This is the first time that Coca-Cola franchise bottlers in South America's biggest country have banded together to build such a cost-saving operation.
``PET 2-liter bottles represent 25 percent of all Coca-Cola sales in Brazil. After the Real plan [Brazil's 1994 economic recovery plan] 30 million [more] consumers began drinking soft drinks. So demand is very big and potential is still great,'' a Coca-Cola Ind£strias spokeswoman said.
She added that there is a continuing trend in Brazil toward the use of nonreturnable containers. Brazil is the world's third-biggest soft drink market, behind the United States and Mexico. Coca-Cola claims a clear lead over other soft-drink manufacturers in Brazil, with 50.3 percent of the market.