NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 24 – Coastal Bottlers limited, one of Coca-Cola’s leading local independent franchise bottling partners, has commissioned a Sh450 million cans manufacturing line that will enable the company meet the increasing demand for Coca-Cola trademark beverages in Kenya and regional export markets.
The new line has the capacity to produce 30,000 cans per hour in quantities of 150ml, 250ml, 330 ml and 500ml and is the first such facility in East Africa by Coca-Cola.
Speaking during the commissioning of the line, Nathan Kalumbu, Coca-Cola Central East and West Africa Business Unit President said the investment was part of a long term expansion plan that began over four years ago.
“Looking at the projected growth of our business and need to upscale our business to better meet consumer needs; we made a decision to invest aggressively including relocating the plant from Mombasa town to the current spacious facility in Mtwapa, Kilifi County. That decision today presents us with the opportunity to grow our business year-on-year but at the same time challenges us to invest further so as to meet the ever-increasing consumer demand for our brands,” he said.
In the past, Coca-Cola has been importing canned beverages sold in Kenya. In most of Sub-Saharan countries, over 95 percent of the company’s unit case volumes are delivered in returnable glass and recyclable PET bottles.
“As we strive to improve our packaging, we balance environmental concerns with our need to protect product quality and manufacture and transport our products economically. Our packages help meet our strict quality requirements and to safely deliver our products to consumers. The introduction of locally manufactured cans reiterates our commitment to these values and principles.”
Coastal Bottlers is one of Coca-Cola’s oldest bottlers in Kenya having started operation in 1962 as a small company in Mombasa Old town that delivered beverages to the colonial community at the Coast of Kenya. In 2008 the company moved base to a new state of the art facility in Mtwapa, Kilifi County following a surge in business growth.
“We have grown from a small outfit to a big entity that now contributes nearly 13 percent of Coca-Cola total volume in Kenya. With increasing demand, we have had to deepen our investments in manufacturing and distribution infrastructure to boost our production capacity and improve our customer service,” said Suresh Shah, Coastal Bottlers chairman adding that the new technology is also safe and environmental friendly with regard to energy and water use.
Kalumbu said the changing structure of global trade will impact decisions on supply chain and optimisation of manufacturing and distribution infrastructure hence local value addition (manufacturing) was key to the company’s growth forward.
“Our investments are guided by the premium placed on Africa’s growth potential. This is becoming even clearer with the shift in global trade to developing countries, rapid growth of the middle class and the expectation that commodity prices will fall relative to manufactured goods and knowledge intensive services,” said Kalumbu.
The investments, he added will seek to harness the opportunities that have been presented by slowdown in growth in the West and a general improvement in the governance and entrepreneurial spirit in Africa.
The launch follows a recent announcement of some Sh250 million invested in a cold fill line that produces Minute Maid pulpy orange juice, which was introduced in the market a month ago to compete in the niche category. This takes the total investment by Coastal Bottlers alone to over Sh700 million this year. Last April, Coca-Cola announced an ambitious Sh5 billion expansion plan in Kenya over a two year period. Kalumbu said these plans were on track.
Speaking at the event, Acting Industrialisation Minister Amason Kingi congratulated the Coca-Cola system for the new investments, saying it will go a long way in supplementing the government’s efforts of creating more job opportunities.
“We are keen to facilitate industrial development with a focus on building a more balanced economy with stronger manufacturing, exports and private investment, creating jobs and opportunities across the country,” he said.
The minister assured investors that the government was putting in place a policy framework and an enabling environment for players in the Industrial sector to create wealth and employment.
The new investment will see about 30 new people join Coastal Bottlers but it is expected that, indirectly, the new production line will enable employment through backward and forward linkages.