The Coca-Cola Co said it was spending $2 billion to support the planting of 25,000 acres of new orange groves in Florida, a move that has been welcomed as a major investment in the Sunshine State's citrus industry by officials.
Coca-Cola is the owner of the Minute Maid and Simply juice brands.
According to Steve Cahillane, the president of Coca-Cola Americas, it was an investment in a market that was very important to the company.
Around 5 million new trees would be planted in Polk, DeSoto and Hendry counties in central Florida. The move would come as the largest citrus addition in the state for at least 15 years.
According to company officials, the new groves and resulting juice production are expected to add around 4,100 jobs to the economy of Florida.
The move would also give a boost to historically declining acreage devoted to citrus production in Florida. The state's past housing boom, has seen many citrus farmers sell their land to developers and post 1997, total citrus acreage had fallen by 25 per cent, from 600,000 acres to 450,000 acres, due to disease, pests and other pressures, according to Florida Citrus Mutual.
As part of the collaboration, all the production from the groves would be bought by Coca Cola for the next 20 years.
The Atlanta-based beverage company has plans to team up with Cutrale Citrus Juices and Peace River Citrus Products, according to a news release.
The release added, economic impact of the investment has been estimated at more than $10 billion over the next 25 years, or about $422 million per year.
"A thriving Florida citrus industry is critical to helping us build our Simply and Minute Maid juice brands,'' Cahillane, Coca-Cola Americas president, said in the release.
The announcement was made by Florida agriculture commissioner Adam Putnam in Auburndale yesterday.