NEW DELHI, India — With sales falling and profits shrinking, Coca-Cola is hoping the FIFA World Cup will help boost its fortunes.

The soft drinks company has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on sponsorship and advertising for Brazil 2014, as part of a push to increase demand.

So the last thing Coke needs is to be stopped from making its most famous fizzy drink, in the place it hopes will become its biggest future market.

Indian pollution officials have ordered the company to shut down operations at its bottling plant in Varanasi — the district where India’s new prime minister ran for office in May’s general election.

The local Pollution Control Board says aquifer levels at the factory are critically low and claimed that Coke had failed to get permission to use groundwater in the area.

It also said the company had increased production from 20,000 cases per day to 36,000 cases, and that pollution levels had also shot up.

Coca-Cola told GlobalPost the board’s decision was “an unprecedented move.” Executives have challenged the ban and on Friday June 20 won a temporary stay of the decision until Coca-Cola’s appeal is heard on August 5, although it cannot use the new extended areas of the plant.

They claim improved manufacturing processes mean they can make the same amount of soda with less water — roughly 2.5 liters of water for every liter of Coca-Cola.

“We use water very responsibly and judiciously. We recognize that water is critical to our business as integral to community needs and therefore we have a shared interest is the sustainability of water resources,” a Coke statement said.

Coke’s claims have not impressed local farmers and environmentalists. They have campaigned against the factory since 2002…. see more

source: globalpost