An inorganic chemical and salt-forming anion of phosphoric acid, phosphates are used in a wide range of applications from biochemistry to ecology. Typically mined in their inorganic from large naturally occurring deposits, phosphates are one of the primary sources of phosphorus for use in agriculture to fertilize crops. Most of the phosphates in the world are mined in China, Morocco, and along the southeastern coast of the United States. Phosphates are critical to crop growth, as the presence of phosphorus in soil is often a determining factor in the overall health and life cycle of growing plants. Phosphates are also employed as a chemical feedstock for producing phosphorus-containing compounds used for industrial, commercial, and agricultural manufacturing processes. Phosphates are also used in the production of soft drinks such as Coca-Cola, and were at one time used in a popular beverage containing magnesium and potassium phosphate salts with a small amount of phosphoric acid.