The Coca-Cola Company is today celebrating 70 years of operations in Zimbabwe and is planning to step up innovation as well as drive economic empowerment and environmental stewardship into the future.
The beverages company, which came into the country in 1948, is also celebrating its 132nd birthday globally and 90 years in Africa. Marked as Founder’s Day, 8th May 1886 was the day Dr John S Pemberton sold the first Coca-Cola for just 5 cents in Atlanta, Georgia, US.
Commenting on this milestone, Coca-Cola East and Central Africa Franchise general manager Ahmed Rady, said the company takes pride in contributing to the nation’s socio-economic aspirations and the environment.
“We take great pride in being a part of Zimbabwe’s fibre for over 70 years, and being a part of celebrations by families and individuals,” said Mr Rady.
With three bottling partners, Delta Beverages, Schweppes Zimbabwe Limited and Mutare Bottling Company, Coca-Cola employs over 3 000 people in Zimbabwe and supports over 56 000 others across the supply chain.
The business has also invested heavily in creating jobs, bringing new technologies to the beverage industry in the country.
The three bottlers have invested millions of dollars in the business, with Mutare Bottling Company, Delta Beverages and Schweppes Zimbabwe, having commissioned new plants and new product lines.
Delta Corporation Ltd corporate affairs director Alex Makamure said; “Over the past five years, we have invested in infrastructure, manufacturing, distribution, marketing and skills development. We have an enduring belief in Zimbabwe. We see a bright future ahead, with socio-economic trends showing a growing population, rising GDP and increased urbanisation.”
Coca-Cola has also diversified its product range to include water and juice categories, giving customers more beverages to choose from.
These join a national treasure in Mazoe, the Zimbabwe heritage drink for decades and Minute Maid.
“To compliment this, in 2016 we announced our goal to become a total beverage company. We are evolving our recipes to offer new drinks that provide benefits like nutrition and hydration; and sugar reduction by reformulating the sugar content in some of our products.”
The last decade has seen Coca-Cola in Zimbabwe contributing to the country’s socio-economic advancement through investments in the business and in community programmes.
“Some of our initiatives include water projects in Nyanga, Makoni, and Mwoyoweshumba in Manicaland province, in collaboration with Plan International. We believe that powerful partnerships between the private sector, government and society offer the most effective path to development,” said Noma Halimana, Coca-Cola Zimbabwe country manager.
In sport, Coca-Cola’s Zimbabwean story is underlined by being the cradle of COPA Coca-Cola, a grassroots football tournament that was founded in Bulawayo in 1989.
In Zimbabwe almost all secondary schools participate in the under 15 tournament, now in its 30th year.
Last year 2 500 boys schools and 2 479 girls schools participated, reaching about a million teens and more people within communities.