The chairman of the Coca-Cola Co. said here yesterday that he believes the business community will cooperate with President Carter's anti-inflation program by keeping price increases down.
J. Paul Austin, a long-time friend of Carter, also warned that any acceleration in the pace of inflation would have serious consequences for the economy.
Austin spoke here at the annual meeting of the Society of American Business and Economic Writers.
On his own company's performance, Austin predicted continued growth as well as expansion into areas that can benefit from Coca-Cola's expertise in agriculture and resource management.
Criticized the Federal Trade Commission's ruling that Coca-Cola's bottler contracts are too restrictive. The firm is appealing. In the long run, the only ones who will be hurt (by the FTC ruling) are the small bottlers, Austin said.
Said that his firm is working in the Soviet Union to develop a protein-enriched drink. He said that the drink had been tested in schools in Atlanta and that children from poor neighborhoods showed marked improvement in their learning ability during the six-month study. But an attempt to get the Department of Agriculture to approve the drink for sale in public schools failed. A department official told him that it was too close to milk, Austin said.
Expressed the hope that his company would soon be removed from the Arab boycott list, "perhaps in 30 days."
Said that Coca-Cola had studied the possibility of purchasing a brewery but had decided against it.
Another speaker, Gov. George Busbee of Georgia, charged that a coalition of northeastern and midwestern congressmen, governors and state legislators is helping to deprive the South of a fair share in federal funds.
Busbee, who heads the Southern Growth Policies Board, said that the "emergence of competitive regionalism" has become increasingly serious. He said his group has been waging "a daily struggle just to keep up with what the northern coalitions are doing."
He mentioned such programs as Urban Development Action Grants (UDAG), the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Community Development Block Grants and Vocational Rehabilitation as examples of projects that he said are trying to shortchange the South.
"At the same time, no one in the North or anywhere else can deny that the South still has the greatest percentages of people in poverty," Busbee said.