What's in a bottle of Coke?

IT is believed that only five people in the whole world know the secret formula of Coca Cola; a product’s success may also be due to how secrets are kept. It is not a surprise that this sweet concoction inside a bottle of Coke is not easily made; it goes through a number of processes and each is unique and especially designed to carefully manufacture the drink that has been well recognized and adopted into each Filipino home.

By observing these steps, hopeful competitors of Coca Cola can kiss their hopes, of trying to get a hold of the secret formula, goodbye.

Coca Cola Femsa (Fomento Económico Mexicano, S.A.B. de C.V.) is the current franchise holder of the manufacturing and sale of Coca Cola products in the Philippines. Coca Cola Femsa has 19 plants and over 60 sales offices in the Philippines. The Cebu plant opened in 1941 and was the first plant opened outside of Manila.

The Cebu plant located in Mandaue City has three production lines; one of these is the oldest in Cebu and was located in Calle de los Martires (known as MJ Cuenco Ave. at present) before it was transferred to its present location.

Generally speaking, making Coca-Cola products starts with the preparation of raw materials which are mainly water and syrup—the syrup mainly composed of water and sugar. For the Cebu plant, the water is supplied by MCWD (Metropolitan Cebu Water District), and the plant treats it two ways: One is for purification as an ingredient in its products and the second is waste water treated and made clean again to be released back into the rivers or other water sources for further use by people. Coca-Cola Femsa has water treatment facilities in all of its plants nationwide.

The sugar used in all Coke products in the Philippines is transported from the different parts of the Philippines namely Negros, Batangas and the Bukidnon area in Central Mindanao.

Inside the plant, the bottling process begins. The bottles are cleaned and sanitized as they are filled with the carbonated mixture and then capped. The bottles are then inspected by equipment that clearly monitors the levels of the liquid inside. If it is below or above the standard fill, the bottles are rejected. But those that pass these quality control measures are then put into crates and brought to the warehouse for immediate dispatch.

From the plant, products are brought to distribution centers (there are four in Cebu: Cebu City, Consolacion, Mandaue City and Masbate) where these are tagged and subsequently loaded onto delivery trucks in accordance with the orders for that day. These products are then dispatched for delivery to retail establishments.

From the distribution centers, Coca-Cola products are then sent to establishments supported by Coca-Cola Femsa and majority of these are small carenderias and sari-sari stores or traditional outlets. Coca-Cola Femsa’s Cebu Region commercial operations serves close to 42,000 retail establishments.

Nationwide, the number for sari-sari stores and carenderias alone served would reach the 800,000-plus mark. As one of the premier soda companies in the whole world, Coca-Cola Femsa operates in 10 countries including the Philippines.

So what is the secret formula? According to the people at the plant, the ingredients that a bottle of Coke just really needs to be special are love and happiness.

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