PepsiCo has opened its first overseas "green" plant in China in the western city of Chongqing as it reiterated plans to invest US$1 billion in the country, which will include five new beverage plants over the next two years.

The company said the beverage facility is important to the company's ongoing strategy to expand in emerging markets and broaden its portfolio of locally relevant products.

PepsiCo said it plans to fund a variety of major capital programmes to grow its manufacturing capacity in China, particularly in interior and western areas. Over the next two years, the company expects to open five new beverage manufacturing plants - in Kunming, Zhengzhou, Quanzhou, Lanzhou and Nanchang.

It also said it plans to invest to strengthen its local research and development capabilities and broaden its portfolio of Chinese-designed and developed products such as Tropicana Guo Bin Fen juices, Lay's Lychee potato chips and Cao Ben Le drinks, which are inspired by traditional Chinese medicine.

"Despite the current uncertainty in many parts of the world, we have no doubt that China will remain a powerful engine of global economic expansion," said Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo chairman and chief executive officer. "This is the largest, most ambitious development effort we've undertaken in our more than 25 years of doing business here."

The Chongqing plant, PepsiCo claims, is the first "green" beverage plant ever built in China - and the first plant of any kind in the industrial centre of Chongqing - to comply with the sustainable engineering standards known as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), set by the Green Building Council.

"This plant reflects our deep and long-term commitment to China," said Nooyi. "It is also an important milestone in our green journey, on which we are partnering with the Chinese government, industry and others to continue to promote the health and longevity of our planet."

The facility is designed to use 22% less water and 23% less energy than the average PepsiCo plant in China.

The new plant is expected to help PepsiCo annually reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3,100 tons; water usage by 100,000 tons; and overall energy use by four million kilowatt hours compared to the former Chongqing plant. It also will serve as an educational center to raise awareness of good environmental practices among students in the local community.

Today's announcement was made during a ten-day visit to China by Nooyi. China is PepsiCo's fastest-growing foods market and its largest beverage market outside the US.