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Coke Claims Market Leadership in Russia

August 26, 1996

ATLANTA (AP) _ The Coca-Cola Co. said Monday it has become the top soft drink company in Russia, the largest country in which it had once trailed rival Pepsi-Cola. Pepsi said it was still Russia’s leader in colas.

Atlanta-based Coca-Cola, which first entered the Russian market in 1985, also announced plans to invest an additional $100 million in Russia by the end of next year in bottling and distribution operations. That is on top of the $500 million it has invested in Russia over the past few years.

The announcement comes in the wake of the recent surprise announcement that Coca-Cola had struck a deal with Pepsi’s longtime bottling partner in Venezuela.

Coca-Cola said its products, led by Coke, Fanta and Sprite, accounted for about 18 percent of carbonated soft drink sales in Russia in the second quarter ahead of second-place Pepsi’s overall 14 percent share.

Pepsi declined to release Pepsi’s numbers for the overall soft drink market. But Pepsi spokesman Keith Hughes said from Somers, N.Y., that ``Coca-Cola is playing catchup in Russia.″

Pepsi holds 58 percent of the cola market in Russia and has a 2-1 lead over the nearest competitor, Hughes said.

Coke concedes Pepsi still leads in the cola segment.

Pepsi had an exclusive production license under the old Soviet Union, which kept Coke out until 1985, when Coca-Cola began to be sold in tourist shops. Coke began a major Russian investment in 1990.

Coke spokesman Randy Donaldson said Coca-Cola first surpassed Pepsi in overall market share in the second quarter of 1995 but did not announce it then because the company wanted to make sure it was not a blip. He said Coke has now led Pepsi for five consecutive quarters.

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