The Coca-Cola Company and its Palestinian bottling partner National Beverage Company (NBC) have officially inaugurated the first Coca-Cola bottling plant in Gaza, which will eventually employ over 270 people and indirectly support more than 2,700 households in the region. The new plant represents a US$20 million investment, and expands NBC’s Palestinian operations to four bottling plants and four distribution centers.
With more than 600 current employees, NBC is the third largest Palestinian employer and the fifth largest Palestinian investor, and has been serving Palestinian communities and investing in its operations for more than 18 years since bottling the first Coca-Cola in 1998. The new plant spans over 15,000 square meters and contains a single bottling line that is capable of filling up to 36,000 returnable glass bottles per hour with Coca-Cola sparkling beverages. The beverages will be distributed to over 4,000 outlets in Gazan communities through 18 branded trucks which will move from city-to-city and from village-to-village.
The plant, which first began production in April 2016 and has now reached full current capacity, was officially inaugurated at an event hosted by senior Coca-Cola and NBC leadership and attended by leading figures in the Palestinian business community and civil society. To coincide with the inauguration, The Coca-Cola Foundation and NBC also officially announced a new US$1.3million charitable initiative that will be implemented by the global organization Mercy Corps and is designed to address two regional development challenges – ensuring access to clean drinking water and creating employment opportunities for Palestinian youth.
Future expansion plans already underway will introduce new bottling lines and new delivery trucks to the plant, expanding the number of employees from 120 today to 270 over the next three years. Over the last 18 years, NBC has established a strong local supply-chain of suppliers, retailers and distributors, creating an economic multiplier effect of over 10 indirect jobs supported for every direct employee.
Commenting on the announcement, Muhtar Kent, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Coca-Cola Company said, “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 in and supporting progress in communities around the world. We believe that strong businesses can enable strong communities and we are delighted to welcome new Gazan employees, distributors and retailers to our Coca-Cola system.”
Reflecting on the milestone inauguration, Zahi Khouri, Founder and Chairman of NBC said “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. The opening of our first Gaza plant is an important milestone on this journey.”