Coca-Cola and NBC expand investment in Gaza
The Coca-Cola Company and National Beverage Company (NBC) yesterday officially inaugurated a new Coca-Cola bottling facility located in Gaza, which represents a $20 million investment in the region. The new bottling facility further expands National Beverage Company’s Palestinian operations to four bottling plants and four distribution centers, and immediately creates 120 direct jobs in Gaza, while indirectly supporting more than 1,200 Palestinians through a local value-chain of suppliers, distributors and retailers.
Following planned future expansion within the next three years, the Coca-Cola Gaza plant will eventually employ 270 people, bringing the total number of direct Palestinian jobs across the West Bank and Gaza to more than 750, and the total number of indirect job opportunities to more than 7,500.
The Coca-Cola Foundation, NBC and Mercy Corps, the international development organization, also announced a new $1.3 million charitable initiative designed to address two regional development challenges -ensuring access to clean drinking water and creating employment opportunities for Palestinian youth. The ‘Empowering Sustainable Communities in Gaza’ initiative aims to support over 30,000 Palestinian beneficiaries within three years.
The charitable initiative includes plans to construct a desalination plant near Al Maghazi refugee camp in the center of Gaza that will provide a sustainable water source to a population of more than 24,000 registered refugees. NBC is the third largest Palestinian employer and the fifth largest Palestinian investor with over 600 direct employees, and is the largest food and beverage company in the region, having produced sparkling and stills beverage products since 1998, including Coca-Cola, Fanta, Sprite, Cappy juice, Arwa and Jericho mineral water.
With existing bottling facilities in Jericho, Tulkarem, Ramallah and its Ramallah headquarters and main distribution center, construction of the Gaza plant began in 2014 and began production in April 2016. “National Beverage Company and Coca-Cola share great pride in having been part of the fabric of Palestinian communities for almost 18 years, and our new Gaza plant shows our ongoing commitment to investing and supporting progress in communities around the world,” said Muhtar Kent, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Coca-Cola Company.
“We believe that strong businesses can help enable strong communities, and we are delighted to welcome new Gazan employees, distributors and retailers to our Coca-Cola system, while jointly undertaking important work with NBC and Mercy Corps that we believe can have a positive and lasting impact for years to come.”
“Ever since NBC first began operations, we have been firmly committed to building a successful Palestinian business that can create employment opportunities, support the national economy and demonstrate the great capabilities of our region while serving products of the very highest quality,” said ZahiKhouri, Founder and Chairman of National Beverage Company. “The opening of our first Gaza plant is an important milestone in this journey and provides great evidence of the tremendous commercial opportunity that exists.”
“Empowered with the spirit of leadership and with self-confidence, skill, and talent, NBC has worked with partners on the ground to expand its supply chain from city-to-city and village to village in the West Bank, with a longterm hope and clear ambition to operating in Gaza,” said Imad Hindi, the General Manager of NBC, “This new productive operation will eventually create thousands of direct and indirect job opportunities to address unemployment challenges and make a tangible contribution to the Gazan economy.”
Accredited with international quality standards and following Coca-Cola’s robust global certifications, the new Gaza bottling facility and distribution center spans over 15,000 square meters and contains a single bottling line that is capable of filling up to 36,000returnable glass bottles per hour with Coca-Cola sparkling beverages.
The Coca-Cola beverages produced in the new bottling plant will be distributed in Gazan communities through 18 branded trucks which will move from city-to-city and from village-to-village.
Since 1998, NBC, The Coca-Cola Company and The Coca-Cola Foundation have supported dozens of community initiatives including an after-school football program, in collaboration with PACES, which offered 10,000 Palestinian students with football coaching and life-skills training. Access to computer labs has also been provided for the first time for 27,000 Palestinian school students in rural villages through the “Lana Al Ghad” school.com project.
For the last five years, aspiring Palestinian entrepreneurs have also participated in the Coca-Cola MENA Scholarship Program, attending a month-long world-class business skills program in the United States created by CocaCola, Indiana University’s Global Business Institute and the US State Department. Recently, and as part of a commitment to environmental stewardship, NBC has inaugurated a power generation plant of photoelectric cells in its headquarters, which will generate 320 kilowatts of electricity to meet 90% of the power needs of the headquarters and main warehouses of NBC.