Coca-Cola Canada Bottling Ltd. KO-N is spending $42-million to expand facilities in Richmond, BC, so it can move beyond soft drinks and into beverages that consumers can enjoy any time of day, and that the company can package in environmentally-friendly containers.
On Tuesday, Coca-Cola Bottling committed $24-million to building a manufacturing line and $18-million to new warehouse and distribution facilities to serve the Western Canadian market.
The BC plant will produce more than 200 beverages – from Diet Coke to energy drinks, iced tea and sparkling water. In an interview, chief executive Todd Parsons said the company is building additional flexibility into its production so it can move quickly to produce anything from retro glass bottles filled with Coca-Cola to Dasani water in bottles made entirely from recycled plastics.
“These investments are driven by our goal to be our customers’ beverage supplier of choice, 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Mr. Parsons said.
The decision to invest in new facilities is driven partly by Coca-Cola Bottling’s decision to move forward from its experience during the COVID-19 pandemic by shortening supply lines and strengthening local operations, Mr. Parsons said. Looking ahead to the rest of this year and 2023, he predicted strong capital spending on modernization across Canada’s food and beverage industry.
As the pandemic eases, the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters association said last month the manufacturing “sector’s recovery has been weaker and more drawn out than expected, attributable to ongoing supply chain disruptions and labor and skills shortages.”
Coca-Cola Bottling expects its new facilities to be up and running by the spring of 2023. The Richmond distribution center will consolidate the company’s existing warehouses in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland.
The company has 5,700 employees across Canada, and Mr. Parsons said it expects to increase its BC work force once the expansion is complete. It also wants to significantly lower its greenhouse gas emissions by introducing new technology, including new electric vehicles in warehouses to replace equipment powered by fossil fuels.
Toronto-based Coca-Cola Bottling is a private company, acquired in 2018 from Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Co. by a joint venture between private equity investor Larry Tanenbaum, chairman of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, and Junior Bridgeman, a former NBA player and owner of Kansas City-based Heartland Coca-Cola Bottling Co.
Along with facilities in southern BC, Coca-Cola Bottling operates more than 50 production and distribution facilities across Canada.
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