East Africa Bottling S.C. (EABSC) unveiled its recyclable plastic PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) bottles at a launching ceremony for its USD 50 million hi-tech manufacturing facility,
on Tuesday September 2. The new facility will enable it to meet the ever increasing demand for Coca Cola beverages in Ethiopia. The company has other products including water and other flavors in the pipeline as well. The plastic bottles will be available in two sizes-500ml and 1.5 litres. The labels on the bottles will include Amharic words.
The 500ml plastic bottle of Coca Cola is called Shir-Shir [an Amharic term for picnic] as it is comfortable and convenient to have it anywhere and at anytime, according to Misikir Mulugeta, Coca Cola’s Brand Manager.
The 1.5 litre bottle, which Misikir said is designed for families or large groups, is called Cheber Chacha, an Amharic word related to festivities. “There’s a whole new way of enjoying and celebrating Coca Cola in Ethiopia. The big thing about plastic bottles is convenience,” said Aghay Parnerkar, Country Manager for Coca Cola.
“It is all about being able to enjoy Coca Cola wherever you are and not having to worry about when you are going to return those bottles,” he said.
Glass bottles will continue at least 75 percent of Coca Cola’s business beyond 2020 due to its affordability, not to mention its great look, according to Grieg Jansen, CEO of East Africa Bottling S.C.
Coca Cola offers its products in plastic bottles in other African countries, according to Jansen. He admitted that Coca Cola was a bit late in introducing plastic bottles in Ethiopia.
The new facility, into which EABSC poured USD 50 million over the last two years, will enable the company to meet the increasing demand for Coca Cola trademark beverages throughout the country, according to the CEO.
The plant has the capacity to produce 36,000 bottles per hour or 60,000 cases of Coca Cola a day and is described as the first hi-tech facility of its kind in Africa by officials of EABSC. “It has a very large capacity,” said the CEO. “And this is the biggest moment,” said Jensen, speaking about the launching ceremony.
The CEO said that Coca Cola had promised the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to invest half a billion dollars in Ethiopia by 2020. “This is one of the biggest chunks of that investment in one single go,” he said. Over the last two years, the company has invested USD 150 million.
The new facility is expected to double the number of people that Coca Cola currently comes into contact with in the country. Eight to nine hundred people are believed to be directly or indirectly employed because of Coca Cola presence. But this is just one of the first investments as Ethiopia is one of the top markets for Coca Cola in Africa. “There are many more in the pipeline,” Parnerkar said.
EABSC will start producing bottled water in two months’ time. Other products and flavors will be coming out by the end of this year.
Meanwhile, the company has already set up a scheme to recycle the plastic bottles. “When you look around the country, you see plastic bottles lying on the ground and in the bushes; it doesn’t look very good for the country,” said the CEO.
According to Jansen, his company will work together with women from disadvantaged communities on recycling programs, not only to meet its environmental responsibilities, but also to empower women as well. “We have a project which goes by the name Five Pack 20. It is a women-empowerment project and global initiative that Coca Cola runs,” Jansen said.