I arrived at their Nigerian Bottling Company Ikeja plant, at about 11am on March 22nd, 2018 for the NBC Bloggers Conference scheduled to hold at the Glass House section of the plant. At the reception, I watched a video which was basically on safety and precaution measures in the factory, understandably, it was part of visitors’ policy and procedures. Upon answering series of questions based on the video, I got an Identification card and went in for the business of the day.
The conference kicked off with an introduction by Bolaji Abimbola, CEO, Integrated Indigo Limited. A welcome address was read by Sade Morgan, Legal, Public Affairs and Communication Director of the Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC). A presentation on the proposed plant for NBC was made by Soni Alok, Ikeja Plant Operations Manager and other projects by the company. It was interesting to know that the Ikeja plant, touted as the biggest in Africa is rebranding soon.
In her presentation, Public Affairs Manager, Ifeoma Okoye talked briefly about the history of the company, how it evolved from a Single Line to a NARTD (Non Alcoholic Ready to Drink) Industry and the CSR projects it has delivered. Some of the programmes include business training for over 25,000 women entrepreneurs, water access to 10,000 households in 15 communities, waste recovery initiatives with Government agencies and regulators, Community Infrastructural support (Schools and other public places), Back to School Program in 28 schools across 28 Commercial territories, Youth empowerment initiatives, Skills Acquisition programs for over 1,000 youths in Niger Delta region to mention a few.
Kevin Igbodo, Communication Channels Manager at NBC spoke about the company’s digital footprints; their different activations and events across states of the federation. One of them is the Youth Empowered programme, a skills acquisition scheme for Nigerian youths to showcase their business skills through training, mentorship and access to information that would help them in their various fields of endeavour.
Before going on tour of the plant, we were given safety gear, comprising of a jacket, earplugs and a hair net, we were then led by a supervisor. It was thrilling to see the production processes. I caught a glimpse of the cleaning unit. The bottles get cleaned, steamed and sanitized to rid them of any dirt. After cleaning, the bottles are picked up by what looked like an overhead conveyor belt. The bottles are picked up by clamps, and transported from one station to another. I saw how they are being filled up, corked, labelled and traveling down the filling line until the final product is sealed for delivery. And the process is repeated over and over again. We moved from the coke section to the juice and wine and then back to the conference room.
While fielding questions from bloggers and influencers after the tour, Okoye assured us of the company’s commitment to standard practices. She also debunked claims by some sections of the public that a can of coke contains 10 sugar cubes which are injurious to health. Images of different sizes of Coca Cola drinks and the number of sugar cubes they contain have been circulating on the internet for a while and the conference presented a perfect opportunity to know the true picture of things.
Kevin maintained that Coca Cola does not use cubes of sugar rather, sugar from processed sugarcane. While reiterating the company’s commitment to customer satisfaction, Okoye added that the company believes in the power of choice and that’s why it introduced variants -the regular Coca Cola, the Coca Cola with zero sugar and many more. My experience at the Coca Cola Ikeja plant was worthwhile and I can’t wait to see the new look in the coming months.