April 22, 2017
Carla P. Gomez (Visayan Daily Star) | https://goo.gl/FKuG9L
Coca-Cola Philippines has began the P850 million expansion of its bottling facility in Barangay Mansilingan, Bacolod City, that will double its use of locally-sourced sugar soon, its Bacolod plant manager Bernard Engada, said yesterday.
Coca-Cola's bottling facility in Bacolod City has been producing beverages with 100 percent locally-sourced sugar since 1998 when the facility opened, Engadatold the media, who were taken on a plant tour yesterday.
But Engada said he was not authorized to disclose how much cane sugar the Bacolod plant uses.
He said the Bacolod plant's two existing bottling lines produce 1.2 million bottles ofbeverages a day and its third line expected to be operational by June will be producing 1.2 million more.
The Bacolod plant's lines 1 and 2 produce Coca-Cola, Royal True Orange and Sprite in glass bottles, and the third line will enable it to produce beverages in plastic bottles, he said.
Ma.Rommin Diaz, Coca-Cola external communications and sustainability area manager, said they cannot give specific figures on the amount of sugar used by the Bacolod plant, but is itis utilizing a big amount.
Sugar industry stakeholders are waging a boycott against Coca-Cola products in protest against the firm's use ofimported High Fructose Corn Syrup as a substitute tocane sugar in the production of its beverages in other parts of the country. They blame the massive importation of HFCS earlier for the drop in the prices of locally produced sugar.
Coca-Cola executives have promised Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol that facilities at their plants using HFCS would be retooled so they can use locally produced sugar, too.
STILL DOING WELL
However, Diaz yesterday said except for the expansion at the Bacolod plant, she did not have available information yet on how many of their 18 other plants around the country would undergo retooling.
Diaz also said shecould not give the figure on how the boycott has affected the firm, all she could say is the company is coping and still doing well.
A press release from the firm reiterated that in a meeting with the officials the Department of Agriculture and the Sugar Regulatory Administration, Coca-Cola executives said that the beverage company has already increased by 50 percent their purchased of local sugar in 2017.
But Diaz said she did not have the exact figure available yet.
Coca-Cola also continues to welcome the opportunity to engage in dialog and work with government and with the local sugar industry and all other stakeholders, the statement said.
Diaz said they are hoping for a win-win solution soon.
Sugar Alliance of the Philippines spokesman, Emilio Yulo III, said the Coca-Cola plant tour and press conference yesterday, was a belated gesture from Coke to open their plant to show and claim that they use local sugar.
“It's been more than a month and a half since we called for a boycott, and this belated plant tour they gave just signifies that despite their denial, they have been affected by the boycott called for by local officials and other sectors and Negrenses who are supportive of the plight of the sugar industry,” he said.
This brings to mind the question that if they can use 100 percent sugar in their Bacolod plant, they can do the same in all their other plants which to this day uses a mixture of 90 percent HFCS and only 10 percent sugar, Yulo said.
“This also raises a doubt on the pronouncement of Sec. Pinol that Coke needs 6 months to tweak their machines for sugar use when it took them only a month and a half to do that in their Bacolod plant. This is why until Coke turns around and really brings something concrete to the table, all their pronouncements will be doubted and their sincerity will always be questioned,” he added.
“All it takes is one trip to a supermarket to show that their beverage sold here have HFCS as printed in their bottles. How sure are we then that they are true to their claim that its pure sugar and nothing more,” Yulo asked.*CPG