CCHBC shows interest in marketing Russian kvas

Listed bottler Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company (CCHBC), the world’s second-largest bottler of the Coca-Cola soft drink, said yesterday it is considering starting sales of Russia’s national drink kvas. «In line with our strategy of expanding our product portfolio to meet local tastes, this is a category we may be interested in exploring,» a CCHBC official, who requested anonymity, told Reuters. CCHBC, with operations in 28 countries in Europe and Africa, is 24 percent owned by the Coca-Cola Co. Last week, a Russian newspaper said Coca-Cola Co was planning to start making fermented beverage kvas in Russia and had made proposals to a number of companies, including Efes, Sun Inbev and Borodino to bottle the national drink at their plants. CCHBC has bought juice producers and eight mineral water companies across Europe in the last five years to cash in on consumers’ shift to healthier drinks. The non-carbonated soft drinks’ share is expected to reach about 35 percent of total output last year from 10 percent in 2001. The stock trades at 22.3 times its estimated 2007 earnings, compared with a 16.2 multiple for Coca-Cola Enterprises. (Reuters)