Pepsico's SodaStream to open factory in impoverished Gaza

JERUSALEM, Dec 20 () - Israel-based SodaStream, a carbonated drink-machine maker bought this year by Pepsico for $3.2 billion, is establishing a factory in the Gaza Strip, its chief executive said on Thursday.

Most Palestinians in Gaza, a territory controlled by the Islamist militant group Hamas, live in poverty. The economy there is stifled by an Israeli-Egyptian blockade on the territory as well as by disputes with the Palestinians' limited self-ruleauthority based in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum told the Globes business conference that the company's manufacturing plant in Israel had succeeded with a mixed workforce of Jews and Arabs, and that it was looking to expand that approach.

He did not discuss other details of the planned facility.

Earlier this month, PepsiCo completed its purchase of SodaStream as it battles Coca-Cola for an edge in the health-conscious beverage market.

Founded in Britain in 1903, SodaStream was a coveted device in British kitchens in the 1970s and 80s, allowing people to create fizzy drinks by adding flavoured syrups to carbonated tap water. But its popularity faded as bottled sodas became cheaper.

More recently, the company reinvented itself as a fizzy water company popular with younger and more health- and environmentally-conscious consumers, who want to drink less soda and use fewer plastic bottles.

SodaStream was in the spotlight a few years ago when critics called for a boycott over a factory it was running in the West Bank. The company has since closed that factory, relocating to a new, much larger facility in southern Israel, although it still employs many Palestinians.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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