Global beverage giant Coca-Cola officially inaugurated its new $100 million Cambodian production facility yesterday, significantly increasing its local bottling capacity while bolstering the confidence of foreign investors.
The 25,000-square-metre factory, situated on 12.5 hectares in the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone on the capital’s outskirts, replaces Coca-Cola’s former production plant in the capital’s Russei Keo district. Built in 1993, its 10,000 bottle per hour production line could not keep up with growing demand.
According to Dana Bolden, vice president of the Coca-Cola Bottling Investment Group, the new plant’s twin production lines can produce about 72,000 bottles and cans per hour.
“We’ve got two 600-bottle per minute lines installed so that should give you a good sense of scale, even though the production ebbs and flows based on demand and the number of shifts,” he said.
Bolden said the factory currently employs 650 local workers, though the number will change according to seasonal demand. Its products include a wide range of Coca-Cola products, such as Dasani water, Samurai energy drink, Coke, Fanta, Sprite and Diet Coke.
Operated by Coca-Cola’s local subsidiary, Cambodia Beverage Company (CBC), the new factory will initially supply the local market, but could eventually produce for other markets in the region.
“Today it is only designed to support Cambodia, but given the way the region’s dynamics are working, it will be our desire to have this factory provide support to all of ASEAN,” said Bolden.
The new facility was designed to reduce the company’s energy bill and carbon footprint. Solar panels on the roof of the building will supply about 30 percent of the plant’s energy needs.
“This factory is about to be LEED-certified, which means it has the highest environmental standards, but you can also see from the production speed that it is night and day above where we were in the older facility,” Bolden said.
“This will probably be the standard that the region will begin to look to,” he added.
Lim Lina, public affairs and communications manager at CBC, said Coca-Cola’s entire production line has already moved to the new factory in Phnom Penh SEZ. She said the old plant will continue to serve as a commercial office and will also be used as a warehouse for cooling equipment.
CBC is planning further development of the new factory within the next three years as part of Coca-Cola’s $100-million investment, she added.
Ronald Marvin, executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia, said that he expects Coca-Cola’s expansion will provide a positive sign for foreign investors, adding that the country’s special economic zones (SEZs) offer a strong platform for companies to enter the Cambodian market.
“If an American company invests $100 million in Cambodia, you would think it would be a positive sign for a lot of investors,” he said.
“I would say that more than being a benchmark for investors, Coca-Cola is recognised as being a leader for good investment.”
Marvin noted that the benefits for foreign companies establishing their operations in SEZs include access to better infrastructure, larger plots of land, investment stability and security, as well as close proximity to customs offices.
“Cambodia offers a favourable investment climate, with tax breaks for your investments, especially in special economic zones as you have the ability to hold leases that are government-backed for up to 99 years, and you also have the ability to move money in and out of the country easily,” he said.
Prime Minister Hun Sen, who presided over the new Coca-Cola factory’s inauguration ceremony, admitted he was a loyal Coke fan.
“On my living room table, I only put Coca-Cola and mineral water,” the premier said.
He added that he expressed this to US Secretary of State John Kerry when he visited Cambodia in January.