PARIS - Coca-Cola has suspended a planned 17 million ($24 million) investment in France as a "symbolic protest" against a French government plan to impose a new tax on sugary drinks.
A Coca-Cola executive confirmed to Le Monde that the American beverage giant would halt plans to add a production line to its Pennes-Mirabeau plant in southern France, in direct response to the government proposal announced last month.
The so-called "soda tax" is part of a deficit reduction package under discussion by the French Parliament, but it is also aimed at reducing sugary drink consumption in a population that increasingly suffers from problems of obesity.
But the Coca-Cola official said the tax was unfair no study shows that Coca-Cola causes obesity. The official added that the company had already reduced sugar levels in its drinks by 16 percent.
Several other beverage companies have called the tax unfair because it targets drinks that are "not harmful to health." But Coca-Cola has now taken the lead in the rebellion, reminding the government that the company was responsible for 3,000 jobs in France, though the move Thursday will not affect any of its current French employees.
In addition to blocking the planned investment, Coca-Cola launched a PR campaign on Twitter by creating the @AntiTaxeSoda account and talking directly to consumers.
Read the full article in French by Samuel Laurent
Photo - dan taylor