Coca Cola invests in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Soft-drink giant takes another step to strengthen its position in the well-being market

Coca-ColaInternational Coca Cola has further demonstrated its commitment to adding 'health' to its portfolio by investing $80 million in a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) research centre in China, with the aim of strengthening its "innovation pipeline for beverages."

"This collaboration will ultimately help us bring the insights and benefits of TCM to consumers all over the world," said Dr Rhona Applebaum, Coca Cola's vice president and chief scientific and regulatory officer. "We see this centre as an important step in strengthening our innovation pipeline for beverages that contribute to well being.

"As the world's largest beverage company, we can add global reach and world-class marketing skills to help promote Chinese wisdom in preventive holistic health through new and innovative beverages."

It would appear Coke's initiative has gained the blessing of the Chinese government as it is being established in Beijing at the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, which is affiliated with China's Ministry of Public Health. Coke is the first non-Chinese company to gain floor space at the academy, and said its initial focus was developing beverages incorporating Chinese herbs and formulas. Under the arrangement, researchers from Coke's Beverage Institute for Health & Wellness will work in collaboration with Academy scientists and formulators.

"By joining forces with Coca Cola we will be much more effective in bringing Chinese medicine to the world through packaged beverages," said Dr Hongxin Cao, president of China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences.

Like its rival Pepsi, Coke acquired several healthy-beverage companies in 2007, including its $4.1 billion purchase of functional-water player Glaceau, as soda sales flatlined. China is Coke's fourth biggest market, with sales doubling since 2002 and accounting for five per cent of its global sales.

China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences

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