Coca-Cola’s new vision for Papua New Guinea

Welcome,

Coca-Cola is now manufactured and marketed in Papua New Guinea by the biggest bottler in the world, Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP), following its acquisition of Coca-Cola Amatil. Business Advantage PNG sat down with CCEP’s PNG General Manager, Philippe Mondada, to talk about the future of the soft drinks giant in PNG.

Coca Cola Europacific’s Philippe Mondada

Business Advantage PNG: What have been the benefits of the CCEP/Coca-Cola Amatil merger in PNG?

Philippe Mondada: The benefit for us is that we are now part of the biggest Coke bottler in the world. We are bottling a good third of the Coke volume worldwide. We started to share experiences and we are trying to leverage a lot of things. The Europeans are very concerned about working capital, so we have a little more pressure on taking care of our working capital than with our previous owner. But overall, I would say the strategy is the same, and the purpose is the same.

‘PNG is that it is one of those markets where you learn to be very agile, flexible and resilient as this is the only way to successfully manage constant changes.’

BAPNG: What are your own local plans for Coca-Cola in PNG?

PM: As part of the masterplan we are implementing, we have already made a big investment in Lae. We built-up a mega warehouse, one of the biggest in PNG. We invested in a new, state-of-the-art production line. We have a brand-new office there as well. We renovated our office to modern standard. We can now cope with business growth for the next five or six years, at least.

Next, we are looking at improvements to our sites in Port Moresby and Mt Hagen. What I enjoy about working in PNG is that it is one of those markets where you learn to be very agile, flexible and resilient, as this is the only way to successfully manage constant changes.

BAPNG: The global pandemic has changed your mix of products in PNG, can you explain what happened there?

PM: As a result of COVID-19, and the resulting economic impact, there’s a trend towards our more affordable products. We have a bottle – we call it Liklik Coke – it’s a little 300ml bottle. That bottle is performing very well, because it’s the most affordable way to keep enjoying the real thing. We are also coming to the market with some very exciting innovations such as the colourful and practical six-pack.

BAPNG: Has this price sensitivity intensified competition in the cola market?

PM: The cola market is a competitive one in PNG and the current price sensitivity is incentivising us to come with ever more attractive and relevant propositions to convince the consumer. At Coca-Cola, the consumer and the customer are at the centre of everything we do.

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BAPNG: Is the market growing or are you battling for market share?

PM: The market’s still growing across the board. We feel the pressure on the purchasing power, but since we’ve got affordable product, we are probably coping better than other industries or other categories and we are fortunate that Coca-Cola is a loved brand.

BAPNG: What are the unique market challenges in PNG?

PM: The main one is that we still must import a lot of ingredients and materials because they’re not available here. The quality of sugar, for instance, is not up to the Coca-Cola standard, so we’ve been trying to develop that locally. Apart from water and cardboard, most of the material has to be imported.

‘We believe it’s our responsibility to develop the necessary talent to fuel our needs.’

And imported ingredients involve longer lead times and access to forex and that is another issue in PNG. On top of that, and because of COVID-19, the worldwide supply chains became tight and complex. Currently, there are not enough vessels sailing the world nor empty containers. As a result of that, everything is much more expensive.

Another challenge in PNG is the access to local talent and qualified workforce for our industry therefore, we believe it’s our responsibility to develop the necessary talent to fuel our needs, the reason we relaunched in the last three years, academies and young talent program in the likes of graduates and apprentices to develop the workforce.

BAPNG: Are you doing local R&D to change this situation?

PM: We are working on several projects to see if we can source, for example, sugar or carbon dioxide (CO2) – the gas we need for our sparkling drinks – locally. We’re working different projects and hopefully some will succeed.

Comments

  1. Jack Gipson says

    Coke Cola is the real taste apart from other flavors. But also Coke Cola Amtail also produces best products here in PNG. Real Taste

  2. Jacquie tibong says

    With all the women empowerment programme.
    I’m an sme running a small Lodge in bogia called Anua negu Lodge.
    I want to be an agent of change empowering another women grow to make a difference.

    I suggest you build more tucker boxes and give to women for road side market as part of your marketing strategy.

    Call it cocoa cola mama power.

    I would like to be a part of that driving that for Madang and Bogia…

    That’s helping empowering a women and also promoting the product.

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