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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Venezuela Firm Dumps Pepsi To Bottle Coke

CARACAS, Venezuela -- Last week, Venezuela was Pepsi's sixth-largest market. Now the company can't produce a single drop of the soft drink there.

The defection of Pepsi's main Venezuelan bottler to arch-rival Coca-Cola has left the company stranded in a country where soft drink sales amount to $700 million a year.

Pepsi officials are fuming over the decision by the Cisneros Bottling Co. suddenly to end a partnership that dated to 1939. "It's treason on the part of the Cisneros," said Julio Tricio, Pepsi's marketing director in Venezuela.

He said the news "arrived by surprise" Friday when Cisneros' lawyers showed up at Pepsi offices and told them Cisneros would no longer produce, bottle and transport the soft drink.

Pepsi says it has a contract with Cisneros through the year 2003 and plans to take legal action.

Production ground to halt., and thousands of bottles and cans of Pepsi are stranded in warehouses