BEVERAGES Company Schweppes Zimbabwe has seen an improvement in production capacity following installation of a new bottling line.
The group this week commissioned a US$14,5 million hot-fill blower line for its Minute Maid Pulpy Orange and Minute Maid juice brands.
The group said with output of 180 000 bottles per 10-hour shift, supply was currently outstripping demand and the focus was now on turning to exports.
Schweppes board chairman Sternford Moyo said the hot-fill line investment was four times the total or combined value of the company’s existing bottling lines.
Moyo said the plant had been partly financed from a medium-term loan from the PTA Bank arranged by MBCA Bank, with the balance coming from internally-generated funds.
He said the group has spent US$32,5 million in plant investments in seven years. The last upgrade was in 2005 at a cost of US$20 million.
The group would soon launch more hot-fill beverages in line with its growth plans.
Coca Cola country manager Honest Murandu said Coca Cola would continue diversifying the offering of beverages as more and more consumers sought wider choice.
“Minute Maid’s Pulpy Orange is a welcome variation of our already successful Minute Maid brand, which has established itself as a household name with consumers,” said Murandu.
Murandu said Zimbabwe was the second largest market in terms of volumes, out of 39 markets served by Coca Cola throughout Central, East and West Africa.
He said internationally the Pulpy Orange brand was launched in 2005 and by 2010 it had reached US$1 billion in global retail sales to become Coca-Cola’s 14th billion-dollar brand. It is also Coca-Cola’s third billion-dollar juice drink brand, joining Minute Maid and Simply.
Zimbabwe is also the first market in sub-Saharan Africa to package the Minute Maid Pulpy orange in a PET bottle.
The packaging used is light-weight, making it more environmentally-friendly because the amount of resin used to make the bottle was reduced by approximately 50%.
“Minute Maid is the number one juice brand in the world and is ranked the fifth largest brand of the Coca Cola global beverage portfolio in volume terms,” Murandu said.
Zimbabwe is the fourth country in Africa to launch Minute Maid Pulpy Orange, joining Egypt, Morocco and Kenya.