More than 400,000 people, mostly residents of China, and myself attended the 2010 Shanghai World Expo on June 8. The expo is averaging massive daily attendance. More than 18.8 million people have visited the expo since its opening May 1 through the end of June, according to its website. Expo 2010 lasts until Oct. 31.
This was my second trip to China. In June, I primarily was there for a press trip, but arrived three days early to explore Shanghai. Like my last visit to China five years ago, the sheer number of people was overwhelming. I partly can attribute the crowds in Shanghai to the visitors of the expo, but the population numbers do not lie — China is a country of 1.3 billion people, and growing. China’s population is supposed to peak in 2030, when the world’s second most populous country, India, is expected to surpass China. Today, China represents a full 20 percent of the world’s population. China is not without its problems, which I’m not going into in this column, but it’s no wonder beverage companies, car makers and every other international business want a part of the action.
In May, The Coca-Cola Co., Atlanta, and PepsiCo Inc., Purchase, N.Y., both visited the expo as well. Coca-Cola celebrated the company’s history, including the beginning of a celebration to welcome the 125th anniversary of Coca-Cola first being served.
“Coca-Cola first came to China in 1927, and today China is our third biggest market,” said Glenn Jordan, group president of The Coca-Cola Co.’s Pacific Group, in statement about the expo. “Partnering with the Shanghai Expo is a confirmation of Coca-Cola’s strong commitment to China. We have great confidence in the future success of China, and Coca-Cola remains strongly committed to growing together with China.”
Coca-Cola will continue the celebration in its Coca-Cola Happiness Factory pavilion throughout the 184-day expo.
PepsiCo also announced that it plans an additional $2.5 billion investment in China during the next three years by constructing new plants and research facilities and through agricultural investments. The newly announced financial commitment is in addition to the $1 billion investment the company announced in 2008, which will be completed this year.
PepsiCo Chairwoman and Chief Executive Officer Indra Nooyi, who in May visited the Shanghai Expo, where PepsiCo is a sponsor of the USA Pavilion, said in a statement: “This investment reflects very clearly our great confidence in China and our long-term commitment to this very important, growing market. We look forward to continuing to evolve our business in China and offer Chinese consumers a full portfolio of foods and beverages ranging from soft drinks and juices to oatmeal and savory snacks.”
Whether these announcements mark the progression of the cola wars in a new country is yet to be seen, but the momentum appears to be headed in right direction. BI