Coca-Cola has interests in dairy in North America and west Africa

Coca-Cola has interests in dairy in North America and west Africa

Coca-Cola Co. has moved to play down a report in Ireland the drinks giant is weighing up a move to set up dairy processing in the country.

The Irish Farmers Journal claimed Coca-Cola officials had visited Irish food agency Teagasc's research centre and the dairy processing centre at the University of Limerick to hold discussions.

However, Coca-Cola told just-food: "As a long-standing and significant investor in Ireland, Coca-Cola has regular discussions with state agencies and partners to discuss different areas of our business including our ongoing evolution to become a total beverage company. This week's media reports regarding future investments in Ireland are purely speculative."

As the growth of the carbonated soft drinks category has slowed, Coca-Cola has sought to diversify its operations and it has interests in the dairy industry in some international markets.

In January, Coca-Cola finalised the purchase of a business in Nigeria manufacturing soft drinks and "value-added dairy beverages". The drinks titan acquired a 40% stake in Chi in January 2016, with an option to buy the rest of the group within three years.

In June 2018, Coca-Cola set out plans to build a new dairy plant in Canada ahead of the launch of its US milk brand Fairlife in the country.

However, last month, Coca-Cola Amatil, the Australasian food and beverage business that is the local distributor of Coca-Cola products, said it was not pursuing the purchase of Kirin Holdings' up-for-sale Lion Drinks and Dairy unit.

Recent other diversification from Coca-Cola has included the acquisition of Australian kombucha maker Organic & Raw Trading Co. in September and, a month earlier, the GBP3.9bn (then US$5.1bn) takeover of UK-based coffee chain Costa.