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MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Coca-Cola could be making a splash with the purchase of another bottled water company. Just last week it bought Glaceau of New York. Today there’s talk Coke could takeover Britain’s second biggest mineral water supplier. Stephen Beard reports from London.
STEPHEN BEARD: Coke is reportedly ready to pay up to $1 billion for the Highland Spring mineral water firm. Neither company will confirm the story, but Coke has had its eye on Britain’s bottled water market for years. It’s growing much faster than the carbonated drinks market. The problem for Coke has been finding a British company like Highland which owns an actual mineral spring. Justin Urquart of Seven Investment:
JUSTIN URQUART-STEWART: What has happened in Europe, of course, is there’s been a great history of having bottled water from original sources. And these are very carefully controlled as to what they are. Whereas, obviously, in America you get bottled water which is purified water — perfectly fresh but not necessarily from an original spring.
That cultural difference between the U.S. and Europe led to Coke’s biggest marketing disaster in Britain. The company was forced to withdraw its Dasani brand here after horrified consumers learned that it was merely purified tap water with minerals added.
In London this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.
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