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    Coke Expects Volume Spike

    Top soft drink maker sees production increase of approximately five percent.


    ATLANTA -- Coca-Cola Co., the world's number-one soft drink company, said it expects worldwide unit case volume to grow 4 percent to 5 percent in the fourth quarter.

    In a quarterly update, Atlanta-based Coca-Cola also said unit case volume, a key measure of financial health in the soft drink industry, would likely grow by about 4 percent for the entire year, the Associated Press reported.

    The soft drink maker, which has in the past two years restructured its operations in its more than 200 markets around the world, appears likely to hit its fourth-quarter volume growth target, which was lowered earlier this year from a range of 5 percent to 6 percent, largely due to a surge in Asian volumes, which are forecast to grow 12 percent to 13 percent.

    But North America, the soft drink maker's largest and most important market, is expected to post volume growth between 2 percent and 3 percent in the quarter. Softness in the U.S. market was one of the factors that prompted Coca-Cola earlier this year to lower its volume-growth forecast for 2001. Volume growth for 2002 and beyond is projected to remain within the range of 5 percent to 6 percent.

    Coca-Cola Chairman and CEO Douglas Daft said the company was pleased that growth trends in North America appeared "solid" despite the negative impact of an economic downturn.

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