Over the last few years, our U.S. bottling system has seen significant changes through our refranchising efforts. By design, these changes were meant to enable the system to strengthen its local roots to better support the communities we serve.

These efforts are starting to bear fruit. Recently, Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages (CCSWB), a company of Arca Continental, announced they will open a new facility which will enable them to more effectively and efficiently serve the Houston community.

“Part of the rationale behind refranchising was to let bottlers take a look at the bottling network at a local level,” said Stacy Green, Senior Vice President of Supply Chain for CCSWB. “The opportunity with Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages is an example of what is happening broadly as the system takes a closer look at local markets. Across the bottling system, we all have locations with aging infrastructure. Building a business case that was attractive to stakeholders and investors wasn’t easy to do, but we’ve been able to get the best, long-term solution for Houston by building this new facility. That wouldn’t have been possible without Arca’s willingness to invest, made possible by refranchising.”

A Facility for Houston’s Future

A little over a year ago, CCSWB became the first Latin American-owned bottler to operate in the U.S., and the bottler will make history again with the construction of this new facility – the first new Coca-Cola production plant built in the U.S. in the last decade. The roughly $250 million facility will be nearly 1 million square feet in size and will provide CCSWB with an opportunity to modernize their entire infrastructure servicing Houston.

Currently, Houston houses two older plants and several small distribution centers. The new, combined production and distribution plant aims to consolidate the existing facilities in Houston and update the bottler’s methods of manufacturing and distribution.

The new facility will increase product offerings and packaging capabilities for the company, ensuring that Southwest Beverages is well-equipped to serve Houston with an expansive array of refreshing   Coca-Cola products both now and further down the road.

Maintaining a Commitment to Sustainability

The capabilities enabled by the plant’s new technology will further CCSWB’s efforts to protect the environment in the Houston community. By transitioning to a combined production and distribution facility, and through changes like producing bottles in-house through in-line blow molding, this new facility will drastically decrease truck traffic in Houston. Moreover, the facility will make use of more energy-efficient equipment and will work to improve water efficiency in production.

“Sustainability is always top of mind for any initiative,” said Green. “We want to protect the environment wherever possible, and coincidentally, that’s often what is most cost-effective and beneficial for business. It’s really a win-win scenario.”

Building on a Commitment to the Community

Looking to the future, Green also is excited about how this new facility will enable CCSWB to maintain a longstanding relationship with Houston and the surrounding communities. Already, CCSWB supports several local organizations such as Keep Houston Beautiful, the Houston NAACP, Houston Food Bank, the Red Cross and many others. Through an emboldened presence in the area, CCSWB will be able to continue investing in the community where they can have an impact - whether that’s through education, sustainability or empowerment.

“We’ve had a rich and vibrant history with Coca-Cola here in Texas, but this is an opportunity for us to further invest,” said Green. “This project will create jobs and opportunity in Houston, and it will enable us to stay active and supportive in the community well into the future.”

Green and her team are thrilled at how this new production and distribution facility will help them build on the bottler’s relationship with Houston. Through new capabilities and a strengthened commitment to the community, this new facility will allow Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages to serve Houston in a way that was not previously possible.

“Coke’s had a long history in Houston of which we’re very proud,” said Green. “The city is growing at a rapid pace. In fact, the population of Houston is expected to double by 2050, and that population growth is matched by increasing economic vibrancy. Our current infrastructure in Houston isn’t well-suited to serve that type of growth, so we are excited about this new plant and the opportunity it can bring both for Coca-Cola and for Houston.”