April 22/Dubai, United Arab Emirates/Gulf News -- PepsiCo is setting up a $60 million bottling plant in Afghanistan with Alokozay.

"We are already operating in Afghanistan from an export market. However, our volume growth is doing very well and it's so big now that it's not possible to supply it with just exports. That's why we need a local facility," Qasin Khan, spokesperson for PepsiCo Asian Pacific, told Gulf News.

The beverage company has signed up with Alokozay, an Afghan consumer goods distribution and marketing company, to be their exclusive bottling partner in Kabul.

Alokozay has a strong presence in Dubai.

"The beverage industry in Afghanistan has grown tremendously and industry estimates point to more than 30% growth year on year. We are delighted to take the PepsiCo franchise into Kabul as this will enable us to service the growing requirement for beverages in the country, with one of the most internationally renowned brands," said Jalil Alokozay, CEO of Alokozay Beverage Company.

According to Khan, Afghanistan has been the highest growth market in the last three years in the Asia Pacific region.

"One of the reasons why there's such a strong growth is because there is a lot of donor money coming into Afghanistan that is generating a lot of projects and a lot of employment and as a result more money, so people are spending more. There's also more stability so people can go out more often, which means they'll consume more of our product," said Khan.

The beverages will be produced by Alokozay Beverage Co (Abco). The plant will bottle and distribute PepsiCo brands such as Pepsi Cola, Diet Pepsi, 7-Up, Mirinda and Mountain Dew along with PepsiCo's energy drinks and bottled water brands such as Sting and Aquafina.

The $60 million (Dh220.68 million) plant is expected to contribute considerably to the economy and will create 800 direct jobs and an estimated 3,000 indirect jobs.

From the April 22, 2011, Prepared Foods' Daily News.