Amid a political and humanitarian crisis, Venezuela’s state-run sugar producers announced earlier this week that they have temporarily ceased production due to a lack of raw sugar.
On Thursday, Coca-Cola FEMSA, the largest bottler worldwide of Coke, threw up a red flag. To make Coke in Venezuela, FEMSA needs refined, industrial sugar made by the Venezuelan Agricultural Corporation of Sugar, a government entity.
Coca-Cola FEMSA, which is partly owned by Coca-Cola, said it would continue production ofCoke in the country until it exhausts its own sugar stockpile. It says it’s seeking other sources of sugar.
“While this situation will impact the production of sugar-sweetened beverages in the coming days,”
a Coca-Cola spokeswoman told CNNMoney,
“the production lines for zero-sugar beverages such as bottled water and Coca-Cola Light … continue operating normally.”
The country is running low on basic goods — not only sugar but also flour, eggs and milk. Medical supplies are in short supply, which has already cost some Venezuelans their lives.
Venezuela often imports basic goods like sugar, but as the economy contracts, the government is running low on revenue to pay for imports of barley, sugar, potatoes and other goods.
The country is also running low on cash because the price of oil, the main engine of its economy, has fallen dramatically while government spending has increased.
Even as oil prices have rebounded in recent months, experts say, Venezuela has a long way to go to recover from its crisis.