Amid cautious optimism, Coke pursues P3-billion expansion

Published February 23, 2021, 4:43 PM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

 Coca-Cola Philippines on Tuesday,  (Feb. 23),  said it is on track with the implementation of its $63 million, approximately P3.06 billion, programmed expansion this year amid cautious optimism for growth and a strong pivot to towards a total beverage company.

Tony Del Rosario, president Coca Cola Philippines, said that although they remained cautiously optimistic, they also expect to return to the pre-COVID level growth this year in terms of its ability to continue its gains in market share and consumer preference, support the Coca-Cola ecosystem in the country, and the recovery of the Philippine economy.

“We’ll continue to focus on these brands and look to, you know, double digit growth in our investments for 2021 around our brands,” he said.

Gareth McGeown, president and CEO of Coca-Cola Beverage Philippines Inc., the bottling arm of Coca-Cola Philippines, said the $63 million investments this year will largely go for its plants in Laguna after investing heavily last year for its plants in Mindanao.

Gareth McGeown, CCBPI President and CEO.

He said they will add more production capacities for its Sta. Rosa, Laguna plant and logistics like more environment friendly trucks and return glass where 56 percent of its packaging is returnable glass. These projects will be implemented between the first and the third quarter this year.

Its sustainability program in the country would get a big boost from the operation of its P2.3 billion

PetValue project, a state-of-the art recycling facility, which is expected to start running in the first quarter this year.

Del Rosario, who started his job at Coca-Cola Philippines as head of the north and south Luzon regional sales 23 years ago before getting international assignments for the company’s units in the Asia Pacific region, also said they are going to put back up their advertising budget after a pullback in the second quarter last year.

He said that while the global Coca-Cola sales were down 6 percent for the full year last year, and 3 percent in the last quarter but the Philippine unit was doing better than that.

 “So, we’ve done quite well here in the Philippines. Despite all the challenges that we have, we remain cautiously optimistic about 2021,” he said.

Del Rosario said the company will push for the expansion of its brand portfolio, especially for water, which is already becoming a big business globally and locally. It will also push for its juice products to achieve its goal as total beverage company.

“We actually went a little bit deeper in expanding our footprint, with milk with not reverse in our in our milk offering, and likewise with Wilkins for water offering and this combined focus around these pillars is actually what we believe is our consumer centric strategy around brands, and it helps us begin to really become a total beverage company,” he said.

For the community, Del Rosario said that they have moved from relief efforts to more of recovery.

He said the combined efforts in investment last year and this year is in the vicinity of around $200 million. In this quarter alone, Coca-Cola is investing around P21 million for to help around 5,000 additional entrepreneurs restart their business.

“We also continue to look at supporting the green recovery so our pillars of water and waste are still a very big, important focus area for us from our sustainability efforts,” he said.

Coca-Cola has 15,000 associates in the country but including its distribution and retailers could fetch over 150,000 in the entire company ecosystem.