Anderlecht, 22 February 2017 – Coca-Cola invested a sizeable 1.9 million euros in a completely new production line in the pilot plant of its Anderlecht innovation centre. The new line is intended for the small-scale production of new beverages developed in Anderlecht. The bottles rolling off the production line will find their way to 122 countries, where they will be tasted by local test panels and reviewed for market introduction. With this investment, Coca-Cola once again underlines the importance of its local roots in Belgium.
One of the most important Coca-Cola innovation centres in the world is located in Anderlecht. The Anderlecht research and development (R&D) department develops most of the group’s drinks other than Coca-Cola itself and its variants.
The Belgian branch plays a crucial, strategic role for the group. The geographical impact of this R&D centre is immense, as the market includes no less than 122 countries in Europe, Africa, Eurasia and the Middle East, home to around 2 billion people.
MORE TEST PRODUCTS FASTER
It is therefore hardly surprising that Coca-Cola decided to invest in a new production line for its small-scale pilot plant in Anderlecht. The new line is a huge asset for the research centre, as it has three fundamental advantages over the old infrastructure:
- A faster turnaround: the line can run through the whole production process in less than four hours; the production cycle is therefore three times shorter.
- Increased functionality: the line can produce a wider variety of drinks to meet future innovation needs.
- A higher efficiency: the production process is fully automated: the cleaning of the bottles before bottling and the packaging of the finished product are now also automatic.
In practice, this means that Anderlecht can produce more new drinks more quickly ready for testing in the South African, Spanish, Russian or Pakistani market, for example. The production line employs eight people with very different profiles and from different origins.
Jean Christophe Lombard, R&D Support Services Director: "This investment allows us to offer our consumer panels a complete experience. In order to understand the needs of our consumers when it comes to taste and packaging, it’s important to give them a taste experience that is as realistic as possible. Their feedback is crucial for possible adjustments to any new drink or flavour variant before we take the strategic decision to bring it to market. In that sense, the pilot line in Belgium is an important logical step in Coca-Cola’s ambitious innovation plans."
ANDERLECHT, RESEARCH LAB FOR THE WORLD AND FOR BELGIUM
The Coca-Cola innovation centre has developed many new drinks in Anderlecht in recent years for the Belgium market, for instance energy drink Nalu (2002), FÏNLEY, a low-calorie soft drink for adults, and flavoured water Chaudfontaine Fusion (2016). The innovation centre also adapts existing beverages in order to reduce their sugar content, such as Nestea (2012) and Sprite (2013). The Coca-Cola innovation centre employs a total of 130 people in Belgium and is responsible for 350 innovations a year.
About Coca-Cola in Belgium and in Luxembourg – One brand, two companies
Coca-Cola Services (CCS) forms part of The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC). In Belgium, the company employs a 213-strong workforce (end 2015). The Coca-Cola Company and its subsidiaries own the brands, they take care of the consumer marketing and sell the concentrates to the bottling companies. Anderlecht is one of the largest innovation centres in the world, and this is where new products, packaging, quality systems and refrigeration equipment are developed.
Coca-Cola European Partners Belgium (CCEPB) and Coca-Cola European Partners Luxembourg (CCEPL) are subsidiaries of Coca-Cola European Partners plc. This is the largest bottler (in terms of turnover) of The Coca-Cola Company brands in the world. CCEPB and CCEPL produce, distribute and sell the beverages via various channels.
For more information: www.cocacolabelgium.be