Vietnam emerges as new battleground for PepsiCo and Coca-Cola

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Vietnam is being eyed as one of the next big emerging markets for global brands seeking expansion opportunities, as the world's largest beverage giants Coca-Cola and PepsiCo both announced major strategic investments in the country over the last two weeks.

Coca-Cola, for instance, released a statement saying the company plans to invest US$300 million in Vietnam over the next three years. The move increases its total investment in the country to $500 million from 2010 to 2015.

During a recent visit to Hanoi, Coca-Cola chairman Muhtar Kent pointed to Vietnam's healthy economic growth in recent years and called the company's investment a sign of its belief in the "long-term potential of this key market."

The most popular Coca-Cola brands in Vietnam include Coca-Cola, Coke Light, Fanta and Sprite, Minute Maid Teppy, Minute Maid Nutriboost, Samurai, Real Leaf and Dasani.

Coca-Cola's statement of intention was echoed by PepsiCo, which last week also announced that the food and beverage brand had struck a strategic partnership with a beverage and wellness company based in Japan, Suntory Holdings Ltd., that will create new growth opportunities in the market.

"Vietnam is a highly attractive growth market where PepsiCo is well positioned in the food and beverage marketplace," said the statement that also identified the country as a "high priority market."

Under the new alliance, Suntory acquires a 51-percent stake in the company's Vietnam beverage business, while PepsiCo is a 49-percent stakeholder.

The company has experienced rapid growth in Vietnam over the last few years, claiming to have nearly tripled its annual revenue between 2006 to 2011 from $8 billion to $22 billion.

PepsiCo also owns a popular local snack food brand, Poca, the Vietnamese version of its Lay's potato chips.

Consumers in Vietnam are most familiar with PepsiCo brands like Pepsi-Cola, 7-UP, Sting, Mirinda, Tropicana Twister, Lipton and Aquafina.

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