Coca-Cola halts production in Venezuela over sugar shortage

© Jorge Silva
Mexican beverage multinational Coca-Cola FEMSA is suspending production in Venezuela because of a shortage of sugar, according to a company statement.

“Ninety percent of the production requires sugar. We are not going to shut our central office right now. We are not leaving Venezuela,” said FEMSA in a statement on Thursday as quoted by the La Patilla daily.

Headquartered in Monterrey, FEMSA operates the biggest independent Coca-Cola bottling group in the world.

Last month, Venezuela's largest food and beverage company Polar Group announced it was suspending production of beer and other malt beverages due to a lack of barley.

Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro threatened to seize the factories that stopped production, and to jail the owners.

In January, Maduro declared an economic emergency in the country. The step came two days after Venezuela’s oil price dropped to $24 a barrel, the lowest mark in 12 years. The measure has been extended to a full-blown state of emergency this month.

Venezuela’s oil-dependent economy contracted by 10 percent last year, inflation reached 141 percent between September 2015 and the year-end, according to government statistics. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has predicted further recession.