Schaumburg, Ill. — Innovation, for Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages, does not happen in a vacuum.
The Dallas-based bottler provides Coca-Cola products in Texas as well as parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arkansas. And the company looks both internally and externally for inspiration and ways to improve business, according to Reyes Garcia Mota, procurement leader for the company.
"Every single day we go over to the market and ask them how we can do things better," Garcia said at the recent Plastics Caps & Closures 2022 conference sponsored by Plastics News in Schaumburg.
Innovation can be linked to sustainability, and sustainability conversations, for years, have centered around lightweighting of PET bottles and their closures. Those conversations continue, Garcia said. But sustainability is much more than that.
"What is important for us, we need to understand our customers. Innovation, for us, is key. Coca-Cola Southwest is a leader in our market. We have to understand our customers' needs in order to succeed. What are the preferences for our customers? What do they need and what are the changes in the market. But understanding that … we can change the dynamic of the market and adjust," Garcia said.
"So understanding that is key in order to bring innovation into the closure area. It's not just being the lightest closure in the market," he said.
Coca-Cola has more 300 PET bottling lines across North America and consumes some 9.5 billion closures each year. So even the smallest change can have a huge impact on resin use and sustainability.
"We need partners; we need to have suppliers that work with us in the innovation piece. Because working together, understanding our needs, understanding our capabilities, [is key] in order to make things happen and make it more efficient," Garcia said. "Innovation to us, again, means working together to do things different and the main objective is to be more efficient."
"For CCSWB to be a leader in the market, we have to understand what our customers need, what their preferences are, and what is changing in the market," Garcia's conference presentation read.
Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages is owned by Arca Continental of Monterrey, Mexico, the second-largest Coca-Cola bottler in Latin America and one of the largest in the world. The publicly traded company also has operations in Ecuador, Peru and Argentina. The company's U.S.-based holdings include the Wise brand of salty snacks. Arca Continental purchased Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages in 2017.
Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages achieved 50 percent recycled content for its entire plastic packaging portfolio in 2021.