It has been nearly seven years since Business Excellence first paid a visit to Coca-Cola Sabco Mozambique in Maputo back in 2003. At that time, the company had just entered its second decade in the east African republic. It had already undergone a journey with the country, which still viewed soft drinks as a luxury product because of price constraints.
The evolution has continued of the country have continued apace. Although Mozambique is slowly pulling out of a recession, its GDP per capita is still around twice what it was 17 years ago, giving its citizens greater access to discretionary spending around food and dining out. This economic upheaval has created a new breed of confidence in the country.
Always Coca-Cola, always on the move
Coca-Cola Sabco has also evolved in the seven years that have passed. Shortly after the profile in 2013, they installed a PET line at their facility in Chimoio at a cost of $20 million. This was a significant undertaking in itself, but was followed by a brand new factory in Maputo, allowing it to provide high quality bottled water to their customers in Mozambique.
The new factory in Maputo, based in Matola Gare, the first phase of which was delivered in 2016, has the capability of delivering 140 million cases a year - an indication of how Coca-Cola believes that consumer confidence in the country is not going to slow down any time soon. If this needed further underlining, it is also the largest greenfield undertaking Coca-Cola has ever taken across southern and eastern Africa.
The Matola Gare plant spans a total of 21 hectares and has the capacity to produce 24,000 two-litre bottles per hour. It also operates to the highest energy and environmental design (LEED) certification standards, incorporating state-of-the-art building and energy management systems, as well as using sophisticated waste-water systems, allowing it to comply with the Coca-Cola group’s ever stricter environmental standards.
An Icon with Impact
It’s not just Coca-Cola’s plant operations which have changed in the past seven years. During that time, its workforce has also increased by around 10% to 1,100, making it the largest food sector employer in the country. As the dominant player in segments like soft drinks, water and juices, it has raised the bar for companies and consumers alike.
The importance of this cannot be overstated. Until very recently, Mozambique’s consumers were plagued with informal drinks being sold on the street. Without provenance, there was little safety or regard for consumer health. Now consumers now that they can expect clean bottled water from the biggest brand on the market, and that juices are pressed fruit rather than home-made concoctions, and others have had to follow suit.
Then, recognizing the widespread nature of informal trade that existed in the country, Coca-Cola began working with street traders - many of them women with young families - rather than working against them. This involved providing these traders with high grade ice boxes and produce. It falls under the company’s greater goal of female empowerment. Some stories have emerged of women who were provided with these ice boxes who ended up owning their own shops.
Through Project Last Mile, a partnership between Coca-Cola, the Coca-Cola Foundation, USAID, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, poorer communities in Mozambique have been given access to leverages Coca-Cola's logistical, supply chain management and marketing expertise to deliver life-saving medicines and supplies along the ‘last mile’ – to the remotest communities. In Mozambique, this involved helping the Ministry for Health to develop its own world class logistics infrastructure.
In 2019, when Cyclone Idai swept over the country, Coca-Cola was one of the first responders. It pledged over $200,000 in relief, providing bottled water, logistics support and distribution of donations to the most badly hit in the aftermath of the cyclone. This also extended to Mozambique’s neighboring countries, Malawi and Zimbabwe.
Partners and Suppliers
As this article has sought to emphasize, Coca-Cola SABCO has been on a journey of development in Mozambique over the past three decades. It has been joined on this journey by a group of local and international firms that have contributed significantly along the way.
These firms include a number of companies which help Coca-Cola SABCO on the technical side including Sentratek, Mogas, Swisslab Pty and Improchem. StevLuc Jobbing Service was one of the firms that worked on the construction of its logistics centre, along with Sunstone Logistics Systems. For banking, it can count on UK banking giant Barclays Bank Mozambique, which has considerable local expertise, and Mozamec Rentals is a reliable partner for machinery rental.
With the economy of Mozambique expected to grow at over 5% in 2020, and the government negotiating the development of a $24 billion on-shore liquefied natural gas plant, the future prospects for the country may be better than they’ve ever been. Added to this, the government has also raised its spending on education to around 6% of its annual budget - more than most other countries in the region.
Later this decade, Coca-Cola will celebrate 100 years of being active in Africa. Over a turbulent century for the continent, it was always present. If anyone knows the importance of sustainability in Africa, it’s Coca-Cola. In 2018, Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA) held its first AGM in Mozambique, reflecting the country’s growing importance in the group.
The acquisition of the remaining share of Anheuser-Busch in CCBA in 2017 underlines the group’s ongoing commitment to the continent. At a more local level, its work on the ground in communities in Mozambique puts it on a better footing as the company looks to end its first century on the continent on a high.