What’s in a bottle? | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Coca-Cola Femsa
A COCA-COLA Femsa employee makes sure that each bottle is perfect before it is released for delivery. At right, Coca-Cola Femsa corporate affairs director Juan Dominguez

Coca-Cola has changed the lives of many Filipinos with business opportunities and meaningful employment.

“When I realized that my income was not enough to provide for the future I wanted my kids to have, that’s when I decided to quit my job as a cook and go into business,” says Carmencita Pabrua, a sari-sari store owner in Laguna.

In 2009, Carmencita or Manang Carmen started selling snacks in a small corner opposite the road where her carinderia now stands.

Wedding ring

The entrepreneur had to pawn her only valuable possession, her wedding ring, for operating capital.

“My original carinderia was very small,” she points out.

Through hard work and ingenuity, Manang Carmen’s business grew into a sizeable eatery that served locals and employees of neighboring offices. It became known as the go-to place for home-cooked meals such as dinuguan, adobo, sinigang.

Manang Carmen also attributes her success to being one of the few establishments in the area that sold ice-cold Coca-Cola products. “I was able to send three of my kids to college. I’m very proud of that fact,” she adds.

Coca-Cola Femsa Philippines currently operates 19 plants, including Sta. Rosa, Laguna, and almost 60 sales offices across the country, employing around 10,000 people.

Success stories

Luisa Talibasao is a quality supervisor, and Beverly Taaranza is a quality analyst. Both have been working at the Coca-Cola Sta. Rosa plant for 25 years.

Bogs Sibug, a beverage processing technician, also started in Sta. Rosa, then transferred to the Coca-Cola plant in Canlubang. He has been working in the company for the past 17 years.

“It is seeing these success stories that pushes us to keep improving every day,” says corporate affairs director for Coca-Cola Femsa Asia division Juan Dominguez.

Media tour

Coca-Cola Femsa Philippines recently hosted an exclusive media tour of its Sta. Rosa plant located near the SLEx Sta. Rosa exit.

The plant opened in 1990, occupies 35 hectares and employs over 730 associates.

Coca-Cola Femsa Philippines, a Mexican company, is one of the largest foreign investors in the  country, holding the franchise to manufacture, distribute and sell all Coca-Cola products here.

We first toured the Coca-Cola glass bottling plant and were given a comprehensive overview of the production process—from the preparation of ingredients (sweeteners, water, natural flavors), the automated glass bottle washers, the filling stations and capping stations, to the quality-control section where state-of-the-art equipment is used.

The plant primarily produces beverages in glass bottles as well as in aluminum cans.

We then proceeded to the Femsa Canlubang plant, touted as having the fastest bottling line in the world, capable of producing 81,000 bottles an hour, bringing the plant’s annual physical capacity to over 265 million physical cases. The plant produces beverages in PET plastic packaging.

We then went to the company’s distribution center, just around the corner from the Canlubang plant. Thousands upon thousands of stacked soft drink cases dozens of feet high were a wonder to behold.

The logistics of distributing these products is daunting, but the staff seems enthusiastic about the work.

The products arrive at the distribution center by the truckload, are electronically tagged and then loaded onto other trucks that will then deliver them to other distribution centers all over the country.

The Coca-Cola Femsa Philippines Silangan Distribution Center serves the requirements of about 35,000 establishments—from Laguna to as far as Mindoro and Palawan.

“Our business is not just about manufacturing beverages,” says Dominguez. “Our business is intertwined with the lives of millions of Filipinos. Their success is our success, and we want to support them every step of the way.”