The PNG company that has become a cola king
Papua New Guinea’s Pacific Industries has created the wildly popular homegrown soft drink GoGo Cola. Now, the company has won the rights to manufacture Pepsi products in PNG and is also set to expand into China. Kevin McQuillan reports.
Pacific Industries is one of the oldest family companies in Papua New Guinea with its origins dating back to World War 2, when the original factory was used to supply soft drinks to Allied troops.
The company now manufactures soft drinks, water, cordial, juice, alcohol, ice cream, baked goods and roasted coffee at plants in Rabaul and Port Moresby.
Founder Gabriel Chue and son Paul Chue had the franchise for Coca-Cola in PNG for about 40 years, but Coca-Cola Amatil took it back in 2008.
In its place, Pacific Industries developed its own homegrown PNG cola brand,
“Development of the brand was extensive as we sampled hundreds of formulations until we finally found the right taste,” Everett Chue, director of Pacific Industries, says.
“Launched in late 2014, GoGo Cola is now our largest brand, and sold throughout PNG, including Bougainville, plus the Solomon Islands,” he says.
“We hope to continue to grow the GoGo Cola brand so that in the future we will have a true home-grown PNG brand to pass down to our children and future generations, just as my grandfather passed down the Gold-Spot brand, which he created in 1952.
“We source as many of our ingredients as possible locally to create as much of an authentic PNG-made product as possible,” he says.
“Sugar, for example, comes from Ramu Sugar and cardboard cartons come from Amalpack manufactured in Lae, but aluminium cans are unavailable locally and we are forced to import from abroad.
“But we are negotiating with several overseas can manufacturers to bring their production on shore here in PNG.
“This essentially will not only bring a large cost of the manufacturing of beverages to be born here in PNG but will also create a further 500 to 1000 new jobs.”
Production of Pepsi and other PepsiCo brands will start before the end of the year at our factory in Rabaul.
Pacific Industries has just recently been awarded the rights to manufacture all PepsiCo brands in PNG.
“Production of Pepsi and other PepsiCo brands will start before the end of the year at our factory in Rabaul and will be distributed all over the country,” Everett says. “We have spent PGK25 million in Rabaul upgrading our plant and equipment, warehousing and staff accommodation in line for the production of Pepsi products and future growth of GoGo Cola.”
The company is also in the planning process of constructing a new beverage manufacturing facility on the PNG mainland, along with a new distribution facility in Lae.
Pacific Industries is well set up for expansion. It has 11 branches (Port
Moresby, Lae, Madang, Goroka, Hagen, Rabaul, Kokopo, Kimbe, Kavieng, Buka and Arawa), each with a full team of sales staff, merchandisers, warehouse staff, delivery crew and mechanics. Product is distributed via sea and land.
At the same time as producing its own GoGo Cola, the family set up Duffy’s Cafe & Roastery, to capitalise on PNG’s high-quality coffee.
Along with roasting and distributing its own locally sourced PNG beans, it now has a creperie to serve savoury and sweet crepes, as well as a French patisserie to bake its own breads, baguettes, and croissants, being served in five cafes around Port Moresby.
For the past year, Everett’s brother, Travers – the founder of Duffy Cafe – has been based in China, gearing up for a launch into the Chinese market at the start of next year. Travers is currently in the final design phase for the fit out of the first Duffy store in China.
There are plans to open three stores in the first year in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, with more stores planned for years two and three.
“We will be ramping up our production of roasted coffee here in Port Moresby to be able to supply these stores in China,” says Everett.
“Once these stores are opened, we also hope to be able to do an exchange program where we send selected staff from here in PNG to China to get exposure in the Chinese coffee market and Chinese hospitality industry.
“We want to use our Duffy China stores as a platform to be able to manufacture premium products in PNG for the export market into China.
“These products will consist of natural spring bottled water, coconut water, coconut food products, coconut health care products, and premium chocolate using Bougainville cocoa.”
He also says he has been approached by interested parties who would like to bring the Duffy concept to the Indian market.
“We have only had initial discussions with interested parties and are in the process of doing feasibility studies.
“PNG has so much to offer the world when it comes to exports with our pristine water ways, unpolluted air and thriving agriculture.
“If PNG is to break away from its reliance on the extractive industry, local businesses should start to look at what we can offer the world and take advantage of what is unique to PNG such as our diverse culture and traditions through tourism, speciality agriculture such as speciality coffee and high-grade cocoa, value added products such as coconut water, Galip nut chips and chocolate,” he says.
On the go … (from right to left) director of Pacific Industries Everett Chue, forklift driver Alison Akia and Uakari Vagi. Pacific Industries management (opposite page).