Fuze Tea. Earlier in the year, this ice tea launched by Coca-Cola at its Socx plant, near Dunkirk, was virtually unknown. A “victim” of its own immediate success, it is now distributed throughout more than 30,000 points of sale, “already representing 6% of the ice tea market in France”, points out Éric Desbonnets, VP Supply Chain of Coca-Cola European Partners France (CCEPF), a subsidiary of Coca-Cola European Partners (1).
To support the development of Fuze Tea in a glass bottle for the French market and export markets (Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Germany), CCEP has decided to invest in a new state-of-the-art glass bottle production line at its Socx plant, which will be up and running in the first half of 2019. It’s a 19m Euro investment which anticipates the creation of “at least” 23 jobs, according to Coca-Cola.
A first for Coke in Europe
Located just outside the A25 (Lille-Dunkirk motorway) since 1989, the Socx plant, which employs 350 people, is the largest Coca-Cola production site in France. “And when it comes to performance, it is one of our top three plants in Europe”, adds Éric Desbonnets. This seventh production line means that the plant, which already offers, in addition to Fuze Tea, 11 brands and 200 references of different products, will be able to add around another fifty (e.g. the organic drink Honest Tea) to its already well-established portfolio. “For the first time ever at a Coca-Cola European Partners factory in Europe”, outlines Éric Desbonnets, “this new facility brings us the possibility of producing still and fizzy drinks on the same production line in a wide variety of formats.”
For Coca-Cola European Partners, this “major and significant ” investment, says Éric Desbonnets, represents a vote of confidence in its diversification strategy—in terms of products and formats— introduced by the American beverage giant. “Our aim is to best meet the expectations of our consumers, who are increasingly opting for still drinks like ice tea and Coca-Cola’s iconic format: the glass bottle.”
Above all, this new production line indicates a willingness to make a real success of the Socx site. “The historic lines have already been reinvented, and this new investment will ensure a firm foothold for our Socx factory in the future ”, concludes Éric Desbonnets.
(1) CCEP produces, distributes and sells the following The Coca-Cola Company drinks: Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Zero, Diet Coca-Cola, Sprite, Fanta, Finley, Fuze Tea, Honest, Minute Maid, Powerade and Chaudfontaine