Coca-Cola moving ahead with takeover of Nigeria’s Chi juice in Q1 2019

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Peter Njonjo, president of Coca-Cola West Africa, says the company is looking to complete the acquisition of Chi Limited by the end of 2019 first quarter.

Coca-Cola had acquired a 40% stake in the company in January 2016 and had, at the time, expressed interest in increasing the ownership within three years.

“We are still on track to complete the acquisition (of Chi Ltd) by the end of the first quarter of 2019,” Njonjo told Reuters on Wednesday.

He said the company is looking at accessing the lower end of the market hence the introduction of the 30-centilitre bottle of Coke Zero to be sold for N60 compared with the standard 50CL bottle for N80.

Njonjo said the company’s drive to diversify its product range could also give it more flexibility

“We realise that in certain pack formats you can only go down so low. But once you start looking at pouches and still products, like juice and drinking yoghurts, that allows you to start accessing much lower price points,” he continued.

“Affordability will start becoming a bigger issue in this market than it was in the past. As a company, that is what we need to factor in as we are thinking about the future of our business in Nigeria.”

Sources have also said that the company is bidding for GlaxoSmithKline’s Horlicks nutrition business.

Njonjo said the purchase of Costa could present a “significant opportunity” in Nigeria, despite the absence of a culture of hot-coffee drinking there.

“There definitely could be an opportunity around ready-to-drink coffee here in Nigeria … Having iced coffee, blends of dairy and coffee, packaged in different formats,” he said.

Njonjo said Horlicks, a malt-based hot beverage, was an “interesting proposition” that could be “a significant opportunity on the (African) continent”.

But while the company was researching drinks from locally relevant ingredients, such as ginger, he said he could not see a market for marijuana drinks – something the company has said it was closely watching in the past.

In January, Coca-Cola announced a global goal to help collect and recycle its packaging.

Njonjo said the company was working in Nigeria to collect bottles and find a way for them to be re-used through a partnership with cement-maker Lafarge in which bottles would be burned in kilns as an energy source.

A memorandum of understanding was being formalized and would be signed in the next few weeks, he said, adding that implementation would begin in the last quarter of this year.

He said the company was also working with Lagos state government on the marine collection to remove waste from waterways in the city, which is built on a lagoon.

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