Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent recently wrapped a busy, week-long market tour across several countries in Latin America.

He visited Colombia, Ecuador and Peru last week, announcing a $3.5B in new investments across those countries, in addition to meeting with political and business leaders, bottling partners, customers and employees. Kent also opened a new bottling plant and state-of-the-art consumer interactive center.

Bogota, Colombia

Kent kicked off his trip on March 3 in the Colombian capital of Bogota by participating in an employee Town Hall with our Latin Center business unit (BU). The more than 34,000 system associates across the BU set a high bar for performance last year, growing volume 6.2%. Kent praised the results, calling their efforts a “powerful model of success for our system.”

Kent also noted the Latin Center BU is one of four business units vying for this year’s Woodruff Cup, honoring the top-performing business unit in our global system. The Latin Center has qualified for the cup in three of the last five years.

Following the Town Hall, Kent inaugurated a new Consumer Interactive Center (CIC).

The center engages our consumers through brands and sustainability messages, nurtures relationships with brand ‘super fans’, and develops unique ideas for real-time consumer interaction initiatives. The new CIC is part our Company’s Global Hub project, which is intended to foster positive brand expressions.

Kent hailed the new Bogota CIC, calling it “the future of consumer engagement and marketing.”

He noted social media is fast becoming the preferred source of information for consumers in many parts of the world and said the new facility, and others like it across our system, would help enable the two-way communications consumers increasingly prefer when engaging with companies and brands.

While in Bogota Kent also met with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and announced a 1.5B investment in the country over the next five years.

Kent rounded out his trip in Bogota with a dinner to honor bottling partners and hand out awards for excellence.

He honored the Columbian team with an award for exceptional quality. The Ecuador team was recognized for marketing leadership and the Panama team won accolades for winning at the point of sale.

Kent commended them as some of our “hardest working people, associates who went above and beyond” in advancing Latin Center’s three strategic priorities in 2013.

Quito, Ecuador

From Colombia, Kent next traveled to Quito, Ecuador. He met with Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa for the first time, and announced a commitment of $1B in Ecuador over the next five years.

This investment will include a new bottling plant in Machachi (south of Quito), the expansion of distribution systems, marketing, storage, and the creation of new jobs.

"Coca-Cola has been present in Ecuador for 86 years. This is the first time the system has made an investment of this magnitude,” Kent said. “We will probably invest in the next five years what has been invested in the last 60 years"

Kent rounded out his trip to Ecuador by hosting a lunch meeting with associates and going on an informal market visit.

Lima, Peru

Kent’s final stop during his Latin America trip was in Lima, Peru, where he met President Ollanta Humala and announced a $1B dollar investment in that country for the next five years as well.

During his stay in Lima, Kent joined Lima-based associates who are part of the Transandean Franchise Unit - which integrates Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay - for an employee Town Hall. Kent walked associates through a review of our Company’s 2013 performance, and looked ahead as he reiterated our Company’s five strategic priorities for the coming year.

While in Peru, Kent joined our local bottling partners, Corporación Lindley, to inaugurate a new LEED-certified bottling plant in Trujillo.

In opening the plant, Kent called the state-of-the-art complex one of the “most modern in all of South America”, and said it was our system’s most important facility in Peru in terms of “new technology, overall volume, production efficiency, water and energy usage.”

Production capacity at the Trujillo bottling plant went from 19 to 47 million of liters per month, or 200,000 bottles per hour, the largest of any sparkling beverage manufacturer in the county.

Kent said the Trujillo facility shows Coca-Cola’s belief in Peru and our commitment to its “very bright future.” He noted Peru has made great strides in recent years, with its economy growing and poverty declining.

Lima, Peru Small Store Owner Meets Muhtar Kent.

Small store owner in Lima, Peru meets Muhtar Kent.

Accompanied by Peru’s Minister of the Environment, Pulgar Vidal, Kent reaffirmed our commitment in Peru to be water neutral by 2015.

“We’re committed—both The Coca-Cola Company and our local bottling partners at Corporación Lindley—to making a lasting, positive difference in Peru,” he emphasized.

Kent also met Johnny Lindley, EVP of Corporación Lindley, and reviewed plans for additional investments in the region over the next decade.

While in Peru, Kent also held an employee Town Hall and went on a Lima market visit where one of the small store owners shared her story and thanked him for Coca-Cola's support.