“This is a very good year because of the weather” said Fabricio Ponce, the company’s chief executive officer in Philippines, as he gave journalists a tour of Coca-Cola FEMSA’s Canlubang plant. “We were blessed.”
For instance, recent typhoons skirted the Philippines, hitting China and Japan instead. The current stretch of fair and warm weather also prompted people to turn to soda to cool off.
Mexico’s Coca-Cola FEMSA S.A. de C.V. entered the country in 2013 when it acquired 51% of Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines, Inc. from US multinational The Coca-Cola Co. From 2013 up to the first half of this year, Coca-Cola FEMSA’s investments in the Philippines have reached P97 billion.
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“We are here for the long term” Mr. Ponce said of the investment, which the company previously disclosed at around $800 million from this year until 2020.
He expects the company’s local exposure to be “sustained” beyond the five-year period.
Coca-Cola FEMSA’s “sparkling” brands, carbonated drinks such as Coca-Cola, Coke Zero, Coke Light and Sprite, as well as water brands Viva Mineral, Wilkins Pure and Wilkins Distilled were doing well along with the economy’s robust growth.
‘Taste the feeling’ in Asia
Mr. Ponce, an Ecuadorean whose last stint before the Philippines was in Colombia, said the Canlubang facility has 10 production lines, whose output is 60% sparkling drinks and 40% water. The plant has the fastest bottling line in the world, capable of producing 81,000 bottles per hour, he said.
The company is looking at how jobs for overseas Filipino workers in the Middle East would fare as these could have an impact on the money they send home. The depreciation of the currency could also hit the cost of materials sourced from abroad.
Still, Mr. Ponce said the Philippine unit was on its way to becoming the largest franchise bottler of Coca-Cola products in the world. He said the company is committed to building a strong business in the country.
The company currently operates 19 plants and 54 sales offices across the country. It employs around 10,000 people.
Coca-Cola FEMSA’s Canlubang plant is a strategic facility for the company’s expansion as it serves the beverage requirements of nearly 35,000 establishments, not just in the nearby areas of Laguna, but even as far as Mindoro and Palawan. About 20-30% of national demand is met by the Canlubang plant.
“Our business is not just about manufacturing beverages. Our business is intertwined with the lives of millions of Filipinos,” closed Mr. Ponce.
Honoring the Filipinos who decided to rebuild after Typhoon Yolanda.
“The challenge is going to be next year because after El Niño comes La Niña. I hope that does not happen,” Said Mr. Ponce.
Aside from direct employment, the company has also supported micro-businesses such as eateries and sari-sari stores, some of which started with two free cases of Coca-Cola products and an ice bucket.