Coca-Cola has been working quietly to perfect prototype beverages using Chinese herbal cures. Analysts and executives suggest the project, which is shrouded in secrecy, could be as important to the
company's future as its original formula was to its past.
Zhang Huaying, Coke's director of a research center opened with the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences in Beijing last
October, says the company is developing specific beverages but declines to provide details about what is in them, when they might be released or how much the company is spending on the effort.
"We're really working on it, and there are lots of things happening," Zhang said, adding that the effort is serious for the company.
Forty people work at the Beijing research
center. In one room, a machine extracts liquids from plants and mixes them into beverages. In another, a researcher uses cell cultures to test traditional cures thought to slow aging. But the labs are
only one aspect of a larger project that employs people working on product development, supply chain management, manufacturing issues, sales and marketing for the beverages in development, Zhang says.
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